Our View: Number of available hospital beds concerning

Friday, October 16, 2020

Last Thursday, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services began adding hospital capacity numbers to its daily COVID-19 updates.

The numbers are concerning. The report lists how many beds in each hospital are occupied, separated by COVID and non-COVID patients, and how many beds are available. A quick look at the region is where concern kicks in.

According to the data released Thursday, Holy Rosary in Miles City has just one bed available out of 24; Six of the 25 beds at Glendive Medical Center are currently occupied; Prairie Community hospital has 3 available out of 22. In Billings, Billings Clinic has eight beds available out of 267; ad St. Vincent Health Care, just 2 of 217 beds are available.

And just a small percentage of the occupied beds are COVID-19-related patients.

The fear is, with flu season starting, which will no doubt require beds, what if the current surge in COVID-19 cases gets worse and starts requiring more hospitalizations? It won’t take long for there to be no beds available in eastern Montana for the sick. Where will they go? Hallways? Be sent home? Who knows?

With that being the case observing proper precautions – masking, social distancing, avoiding crowded places, frequent hand washing and sanitization – are perhaps more important now than they have been at any time during the pandemic.

A flu shot probably wouldn’t hurt either.

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