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Montana Hospitals Have Little Room For Idaho’s Overflowing COVID Cases

Hospital bed

As hospitals overflow in Idaho, COVID-positive patients there looking for care in Montana won’t find many empty rooms. Montana is dealing with its own needs for staffing and bed capacity.

Idaho’s health department enacted guidelines Tuesday that allow hospitals to use resources for patients more likely to survive. The announcement of these “Crisis Standards of Care” cited staffing and hospital bed shortages as the reasons for the move.

Montana Hospital Association President Rich Rasmussen says hospitals here are at their limits in terms of being able to take on any additional patients.

“So it may mean that an Idaho patient may not have the ability to be cared [for] here; they may have to go someplace else,” he says.

Rasmussen says hospitals in Montana have gotten requests to take patients from as far as Texas. He says with the pace of new daily case rates, ICU capacity across Montana may fill up quicker than last year’s spike of COVID cases.

A Montana health department spokesman says a workgroup of health department officials and the governor’s office are reviewing the state’s crisis care guidance for hospitals in case it’s needed.

Montana added over 1,000 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, the first time the state has breached that threshold this year. The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services reported a little over 1,200 new cases Tuesday, but those numbers include cases added over the weekend.

The number of active hospitalizations also grew by nearly 30 patients, bringing the current total to 301 COVID-19 hospital patients. The last time there were that many COVID-19 hospital patients statewide was last December.
Copyright 2021 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Freddy Monares
Freddy Monares is a reporter and Morning Edition host at Montana Public Radio. He previously worked for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, covered the 2017 Legislature for UM Legislative News Service and interned with the station as a student. He graduated from the University of Montana School of Journalism in 2017.
Aaron is Montana Public Radio's Flathead reporter.