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Montana hospitals struggle amid COVID-19 surge

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Town Crier “Briefs from the Region” (1) – 9/23/21

Last week, the Billings Clinic ICU was at 160 percent capacity. In response, they’ve converted many of their hallways into small, temporary patient rooms and may soon be forced to implement “crisis standards of care,” which ration equipment, staff and medicine to only those who can most likely be saved. With COVID-19 hospitalizations increasing and overwhelming resources, staff at the Billings Clinic are experiencing another exhausting surge of patients, and are sometimes met with hostility. Moral distress among healthcare workers is “extremely high,” according to Dr. Nathan Allen, the medical ethicist for Billings Clinic and its department chair for emergency medicine. “We are at the point where we are not confident going forward that we can continue to meet all patients’ needs,” Allen told Kaiser Health News. “And that’s heartbreaking.”

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