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Big Sky Relief moves to meet bimonthly

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BIG SKY – After previously shifting from a biweekly to weekly schedule, the Big Sky Relief Operational Partners once again reduced their meeting frequency to every other week.

At the May 5 meeting, Taylor Rose of the Bozeman Health Big Sky Medical Center reported on the status of the additional four inpatient rooms, which were recently completed after an expedient six-week construction process. BHBSMC will now more ventilators for the hospital and beds to equip the new rooms with, which are scheduled to arrive on May 15 and 18respectively.

Rose updated the partners at the April 28 meeting that the facility had acquired a COVID-19 lab analyzer. On May 6, Rose said that the analyzer’s manufacturer requires validated training before COVID-19 testing media can be distributed to the medical center. BHBSMC is currently training their staff on the equipment. He added that once the testing is functional, the turnaround time on a test is roughly 45 minutes.

Addressing mental health, Jean Behr, the executive director of Women in Action, reminded the partners that WIA, in collaboration with the Big Sky Behavioral Health Coalition, is continuing to offer counseling and a menu of social programming for the community. Behr also shared that Bozeman Health’s System Director of Behavioral Health Maureen Womack is working with Outlaw Partners (the publisher of Explore Big Sky) to produce a series of upcoming public service announcements directed at various demographics throughout the community. The substance of the PSAs will be messaging on how to address friends, family or community members struggling with COVID-19 related mental health struggles.

The Big Sky Community Organization, who is also included in the Big Sky Behavioral Health Coalition, reported on their volunteer basis, which currently boasts 63 volunteers who work as needed across five weekly shifts responding to various community needs.

BSCO, WIA, the Arts Council of Big Sky, the Big Sky School District and the Big Sky Discovery Academy will sponsor the Big Sky “Chalk your Gratitude” day on Saturday May 9. According to Behr’s presentation, chalk stations will be set up throughout Big Sky. Members of the community are encouraged to use the chalk to decorate the sidewalks of Big Sky with messages of gratitude for front-line workers, including food service workers, first responders and healthcare and non-profit staffs. The chalk can also be taken home to decorate neighborhoods with messages of the same nature, celebrating the efforts of family, friends and neighbors during this challenging period.

Reporting on local commerce and tourism, CEO of the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce and Visit Big Sky Candace Carr Strauss highlighted the recently launched $210,000 Big Sky Save Small Business Relief Fund, provided through the Big Sky Resort Area District in partnership with BSCC and VBS. The fund allows for-profit businesses with 20 or fewer employees to apply for microgrants ranging in value from $2,500-5,000. Carr Strauss said that BSCC, VBS and BSRAD hope to announce grant awards on May 7.

Carr Strauss echoed reports from previous meetings, reminding the partners that BSCC continues to provide resources for government and local aid like the newly appropriated $1.25 billion passed down to the Montana Department of Treasury through the federal CARES Act.

David Kack, coordinator of the Big Sky Transportation District reported that BSTD is currently running its limited shoulder season schedule and will likely begin operating the summer season schedule May 26. He added that BSTD is awaiting information regarding the reopening of Big Sky’s larger employers like the Yellowstone Club and Big Sky Resort and their employment needs in order to more definitively determine a summer season start date.

Under the new schedule, the next Big Sky Relief Operational Partners meeting will be on May 19.

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