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National Guard to assist at Logan Health hospitals

by MATT BALDWIN
Daily Inter Lake | September 23, 2021 2:00 PM

Logan Health hospitals in Kalispell and Whitefish are set to receive assistance from the Montana National Guard as Covid-19 patients continue to tax the local health-care system.

According to hospital spokesman Chris Leopold, 25 soldiers will deploy to the Kalispell hospital campus beginning Oct. 2. Whitefish’s hospital will receive help from two soldiers beginning Oct. 4.

The National Guard members will assist with nonclinical positions, such as screening visitors for Covid, food service and housekeeping needs.

Like other Montana hospitals, Leopold said Logan Health’s staff has been strained during the recent surge of Covid patients as the more contagious delta variant circulates in the community.

“It helps to get the extra support,” he said.

Earlier this week, Gov. Greg Gianforte said he would deploy National Guard members to seven other hospitals across the state and a state lab in Helena.

“On behalf of a grateful state, I thank the men and women of the Montana National Guard who are stepping up within their communities to serve their neighbors,” Gianforte said. “As we face a surge in new cases and hospitalizations, the best long-term solution to this crisis is for Montanans to talk with their doctor or pharmacist and get vaccinated. While we will not mandate vaccination in Montana, vaccines are safe, they work, and they can save your life.”

Logan Health was among hospitals in Montana to receive National Guard support during the last surge of Covid cases in November of 2020.

LOGAN HEALTH is also preparing to reopen its temporary “alternate care center” at the Logan Children's Medical Center, should the need arise.

Crews with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers set up the space in May of 2020 on the unused third floor of the new children’s hospital. It offers seven nursing stations and 101 private patient rooms.

The unit is intended to be used for non-Covid patients to create more capacity for treating patients infected with the virus in the hospital’s acute-care settings.

“This is one proactive measure we are taking in the event that we need it,” Leopold said.

Logan Health reported that it had 42 Covid patients on Wednesday, with nine in the ICU and five on ventilators. According to the hospital, 34 of those patients were unvaccinated, including eight in the ICU and all five on ventilators.

As of Thursday, Montana had 402 active Covid hospitalizations.