St. Peter’s implements visitor restrictions due to a significant increase in norovirus

HELENA, Mont - St. Peter’s Health announced they have 41 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at the local health care system's Regional Medical Center, the highest number to date as of Friday morning.

The number of patients hospitalized as of Friday morning represents around 50% of the organization’s acute medical care inpatient beds.

At this time, St. Peter’s says they do not believe the surge at the hospital is at its peak, as hospitalizations and deaths associated with COVID-19 typically lag case reporting by two to three weeks.

This week, Lewis and Clark County reported high case numbers, with 132 new cases reported Tuesday, representing the highest since December of 2020.

In response to the surge, the health care system is taking the following additional actions to ensure it can continue providing life-saving care to the community:

  • Postponing and rescheduling surgeries that require an inpatient bed. The Operating Room will remain open for some outpatient and all emergent procedures. The need for postponement of procedures will be reevaluated often. Patients who this will impact will be contacted directly by their surgeon's office. At this time, this will not impact all procedures.
  • Reassigning providers and staff from its outpatient clinic operations to provide hospital-based care. You will be contacted if appointments need to be rescheduled. Please do not call to cancel appointments, and do not hesitate to call and schedule an appointment. This may also impact the clinic's ability to respond promptly to messages and results and patience is requested. This will only impact some clinics temporarily.
  • Extending and expanding our partnership with the Montana National Guard to assist with critical staffing needs as well as transitioning areas of the hospital used for outpatient procedures into inpatient rooms to prepare for more patients.
  • Creating an emergency department triage strategy, which includes, at times, using a tent for waiting or triage. The community will see a large tent outside the Emergency Department and there will be minimal impact to parking. This tent will not be in use at all times, only as needed based on real-time volume.

"We are doing absolutely all we can, pulling out all stops to ensure we can continue to care for our community, but we need your help," said St. Peter's Health Chief Medical Officer and President of Regional Medical Center Dr. Shelly Harkins. "As we've said over and over again, seek medical care if you need it. It is safe. But we are telling you that your experience may be different regardless of why you're seeking care. The community needs to understand that this surge has implications for our entire health system. Do not be surprised."

The community is being imported by St. Peter’s leaders to take action to slow the spread as the emotional and physical toll on caregivers and community members impacted by the virus increase.

Community members are asked to take precautions like masking indoors in public, staying home when sick and keeping your world as small as possible during this surge.

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