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St. Peter's Health makes changes to visitation, COVID-19 testing

Posted at 5:03 PM, Jun 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-08 19:55:30-04

HELENA -- Starting on June 8, the Saint Peters Health Regional Medical Center, patients will now be allowed up to two visitors and COVID-19 testing will be moving from the tents behind the hospital to the Urgent Care section on the northeast side of the facility.

Shelly Harkins, President and Chief Medical Officer for the Medical Center, said as the state begins to progress through phase two of Governor Bullock’s Reopening the Big Sky plan, they chose to change the visitor restrictions, because having visitors is an important part of the healing process.

“Once those restrictions were lifted, as far as the state goes, we then took a step back and took a look at what was really happening in our community, in our county, and our hospital and realized that having more visitors was a safe approach moving forward,” said Harkins. “Of all of the safety precautions we have in the hospital; masking, screening, social distancing, we have to now balance the importance of having loved ones at the bedside to complete the healing process.”

Instead of the drive-through testing St. Peter’s health was performing, they’ve now moved the testing center to the urgent care facility.

Patients will now be asked to pull into a designated parking stall, call into the office and a health care provider will go to their vehicle and perform the test.

As cases in Lewis and Clark county remain under control, Harkins said the hospital is moving the COVID-19 testing center to its urgent care facility for a few reasons.

“We're really picking up volume and getting back to caring for the community in the capacity that we used to, so part of it is making sure our staff are best utilized,” said Harkins. “Secondly, the weather precludes having staff donned in all of that [personal protective] equipment all day long, like they have been before. It gets very, very hot and it's been particularly windy lately. So just being able to keep our tents safe in that wind has been an issue.”