HELENA — On Tuesday, Oct. 5, St. Peter’s Health reported on Tuesday, Oct. 5, they had 31 community members hospitalized due to complications from COVID-19, a near-record number according to staff.
The Intensive Care Unite (ICU) and Advanced Medical Unit (AMU) are 100 percent full. Seven of the eight ICU patients are fighting COVID-19 and all AMU patients are experiencing complications from the virus.
“We've had a lot more patients on ventilation and mechanical ventilation with the delta variant, and idea is just more aggressive and it's just a nastier variant of this COVID,” said Ashley Coggins, a St. Peter’s Health Hospitalist.
St. Peter’s urges people to not delay medical care. Catching an issue early can help prevent the problem from becoming something that needs hospital care or worse.
“Seeking care is safe. Our staff are working remarkably hard and doing an amazing job caring for our community. Don't delay needed medical care. We have procedures in place like universal masking to mitigate risk of transmission within our walls - at the hospital, at our Urgent Cares and in all our outpatient clinics,” said St. Peter’s in a statement. on Facebook.
President of St. Peter's Health Medical Group Dr. Todd Wampler says that through the combined efforts of staff, the hospital is still providing care for those who need it.
However, Wampler says that there are two worlds in Helena, MT when it comes to the pandemic.
“It's hard to describe that there are two different worlds right now. There's the world that we're dealing with in Saint Peter's health with other patients in the hospital, and it is a crisis situation, but the world that I see outside the four walls of the hospital is very different, and it's clear that people don't appreciate that, it's so important to take those simple measures that they helped us earlier in the pandemic, we need them right now,” said Wampler.
St. Peter’s staff are asking the public to focus on taking preventative measures, like masking, vaccination and good hygiene, to slow the spread of the virus.
“We want everyone to remember that members of our community are grieving... families, friends and caregivers. Please, please offer support and loving-kindness to those in your life and in our community impacted by COVID-19. Please recognize this continues to be a hard time for many.”
Coggins says that the hospital has formally trained staff on the proning technique, where a ventilated patient is flipped on their stomach to increase oxygen levels. For this to happen they need four to six people to do so.
“This is where we're using our National Guard people this week, we're using EDS, we're using, Same day services people who aren't usually in the ICU, so really, anybody that we can grab,” said Coggins.
On Sunday, Oct. 3, 14 out of 18 rooms in the emergency department were occupied with seriously ill COVID patients.
The hospital reports over 60 community members are currently on home oxygen due to a COVID-19 diagnosis.
There were 1,276 new COVID-19 cases reported Tuesday, Oct. 5 in Montana, with 12,050 total active cases in the state. 26 new deaths were reported; along with 56 new hospitalizations.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with more information from medical staff at St. Peter's Health.