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National Guard to help Montana hospitals as COVID-19 cases surge

70 National Guardsmen to help hospitals
National Guard MT Hospitals Map
Posted at 3:09 PM, Sep 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-22 10:44:08-04

HELENA — Gov. Greg Gianforte has announced Montana National Guardsmen are being sent to hospitals across the state to support their COVID-19 response, fulfilling all current formal requests for National Guard resources.

“Joining doctors and nurses on the frontlines, the men and women of the Montana National Guard will provide critical supports to our hospitals as their systems are strained,” Gov. Gianforte said.

“While these Guardsmen will help ease the heavy burden our frontline health workers face,” Gov Gianforte continued, “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 them, vaccines are safe, they work, and they can save your life. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the virus.”

The 70 Guardsmen will begin assisting hospitals this weekend and next weekend. They will be used to support staffing with non-medical ICU assistance, environmental services, patient data entry, and COVID testing.

Ten members of the Montana National Guard began assisting Billings Clinic in its COVID-19 response on Sept. 15 and seven Guardsmen also began assisting the state lab last week.

Since last week, the state has received six formal resource requests from hospitals for 70 National Guardsmen.

Those requests are being fulfilled as follows:

  • On September 15, St. Peter’s Health in Helena submitted a formal request for 10 Guard. This request will be fulfilled with 10 Guard.
  • On September 15, Billings Clinic in Billings submitted a second formal request for 10 additional Guard. This request will be fulfilled with 10 Guard.
  • On September 15, St. James Healthcare in Butte submitted a formal request for six Guard. This request will be fulfilled with six Guard.
  • On September 17, St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings submitted a formal request for 10 Guard. This request will be fulfilled with 10 Guard.
  • On September 17, Missoula County submitted a formal request for 24 Guard. This request will be fulfilled with 24 Guard.
  • On September 20, Bozeman Health in Bozeman submitted a formal request for 10 Guard. This request will be fulfilled with 10 Guard.

The state is working with and anticipates additional formal requests for Guard resources from several other hospitals. At the direction of the governor, all hospitals have received a COVID-19 response resource guide, which includes step-by-step instructions on how to submit a formal request for Guard resources, according to a news release.

Montana is not the only state deploying National Guard troops to help hospitals - other states include Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Additionally, at Gov. Gianforte's direction, Montana Disaster and Emergency Services is assisting hospitals in the process of securing full reimbursements from FEMA for their COVID-19 staffing needs.