Stillwater hits triple-digits

Death of woman in her 60s bumps fatality total to 18
Thursday, September 23, 2021
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Active COVID-19 cases in Stillwater County hit triple-digits Wednesday at 103, marking one of the highest local case counts to date as the Delta surge variant continues to ramp up.

Another death was also reported, a woman in her 60s, bringing the fatality count to 18.

In all, there have been 936 cases with 815 of those recovered, according to the Stillwater Billings Clinic/Public Health.

Locally, 95 percent of all cases are occurring with people who are not vaccinated. Stillwater County currently has a 41 percent immunization rate while the state’s rate is 51 percent, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.

Since last Wednesday, 61 people across the state have died from COVID-related causes. There are 395 active hospitalizations and 1,326 new cases were reported on Wednesday alone.

The increase of COVID patients in combination with regular patients continue to put hospitals and staffs at capacity. At least two hospitals — Billings Clinic and Bozeman Health — have publicly spoken about the real possibility of having to shift to “critical care” — which in overly simple terms, favors treating the patients most likely to recover.

At Stillwater Billings Clinic, enough staffing help has been received to allow them to open the six beds recently added with CARES Act funding. Of the 16 total beds now available, 13 are filled.

“We are staffing our six new additional beds this week to help to accommodate our own patients locally and to alleviate the strain from the hospitalizations in Billings,” said Stillwater Billings Clinic Director of Clinic and Ancillary Services Natasha Sailer. “Our staff continues to tirelessly for our community and will continue to serve the communities of Stillwater County through and well after the surge. New faces will be seen, but the same great care will still be provided.”

The clinic did announce this week that due to staffing and capacity issues, Saturday SameDay Care Visits has been suspended.

“We continue to treat the care spectrum. Not all patients are COVID patients, but that number is increasing daily. We have many really sick people that need to be cared for, unfortunately COVID has crunched the resources most care facilities have and can care for,” said Sailer.

NEARBY HOSPITALS

On Tuesday, Governor Gianforte announced today that 70 National Guardsmen will begin assisting five hospitals this weekend and next weekend with “support staffing” with non-medical ICU assistance, environmental services, patient data entry and COVID testing. Billings Clinic, St. Vincent Healthcare and Bozeman Health are three of those hospitals.

LOCAL TESTING

People who have had symptoms for at least 48 hours or more are being tested locally.

“We are unable to provide asymptomatic testing at this time because we do not have the human resources to provide this. Our staff has all been moved to take care of patients and take care of sick patients,” said Sailer.

People who test positive are being sent letters that also include recommendations, said Sailer. That is currently all that healthcare/public health is being allowed due to legislation that has not yet been interpreted in a meaningful way across the state.

Asymptomatic testing is being done in Billings by Pharm406 and RiverStone Health.

Sailer also acknowledged that there are delays in communication between counties.

“At this point in time, we are doing the best we can, but prioritize all patients in a manner that will best serve our populations,” said Sailer.