GREAT FALLS, Mont. - Yesterday, Governor Greg Gianforte announced that Montana National Guard personnel will provide support to hospitals around the Treasure state. After submitting a formal request this morning, Benefis in Great Falls will see 20 extra helping hands next weekend.
It doesn’t come as a surprise, as hospitals are struggling to keep up with demand amid the pandemic, especially with cases on the rise again.
"They're rightfully very concerned as are we,” Trisha Gardner, a health officer with the Cascade City-County Health Department, said.
Benefis tells me, as of Wednesday, they are at 128% of their normal capacity and they have 46 COVID-19 patients in house.
"Because of the sheer number of cases that we have, we have more people seeking that medical care going in and ultimately being admitted to the hospital,” said Gardner.
And with the colder weather comes the potential for hospitals to see even more patients...
"We're just entering flu season and the potential to have more people in when weather gets bad and flu is also going around just continues to go up,” said Gardner.
While Benefis didn't have time for an interview – we were able to speak with CCHD about the rise in cases and how it's pushing hospitals to their breaking point
"They were already short staffed particularly in nursing and CNA's and everybody that's needed to make things run smoothly. So, that extra help is giving 1 much needed reprieve to some people that may need a break so they don't burn out and we don't lose them permanently and it ultimately will help the service to community members,” said Gardner.
These additional 20 Guard personnel will help with non-medical ICU assistance, environmental services, patient data entry, and even COVID testing.
"They are working so very hard and so diligently every single day to give the best care they possible can to everybody coming in and they've been doing it with less staff than they'd like and having the national guard there to help will be a huge bonus,” said Gardner.