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Montana hospitals reach capacity, urge patients to consider other clinics and offices before visiting ER

Posted at 3:03 PM, Feb 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-21 18:30:02-05

BILLINGS – Billings Clinic called a special press conference Thursday to announce they have reached capacity.

Hospitals all across the state are in a similar situation.

In terms of capacity, it was announced Billings Clinic has reached black, the highest classification on their scale.

The situation is so severe, some patients are being seen in hallways and conference rooms.

It’s not a first for Billings Clinic, but officials say they’re experiencing the largest patient numbers in recent history.

“This is not a crisis situation at all, we’re certainly managing our patients with outstanding, safe patient care, but this is a situation where this is impacting our flows, that we do need people to understand the wait times are going to be longer wait times,” said Robert Merchant, Billings Clinic Chief Medical Officer.

The jump in patients began at the end of January, due in part to influenza.

Montana usually experiences its peak flu season in February, and the patient numbers show it.

Hospital staff encourages anyone experiencing flu symptoms, a minor illness or injury, to call the nurse HealthLine, visit SameDay Care or one of their ExpressCare clinics, instead of heading straight to the emergency room.

They assure anyone who enters the ER will receive quality care, but the influx in visitors is causing longer wait times.

Reporting by Victoria Hill for MTN News