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“Do we have to ration care?”: COVID sufferers overwhelm Montana hospitals


Billings, Montana — Montana, the primary state to ban COVID-19 mandates for workers, has one of many lowest vaccination charges and the best hospitalization charges within the nation. Some hospitals have reached the purpose of not accepting new sufferers and are making ready to ration care.

The intensive care unit at Billings Clinic is working at 175% capability. Dr. Jaimee Belsky, an emergency room physician there, is making an attempt to maintain up with the crush of COVID sufferers. The hospital’s emergency division is “past slammed at this second,” a spokesperson mentioned, including that the division has 9 ICU sufferers and 13 others ready to be seen. 

“I preserve a scalpel in my pocket in case we have now an emergency airway,” Belsky mentioned. “We’re attending to the place if we do not see an enchancment within the variety of sufferers, quickly we’ll have to begin taking a look at do we have to ration care?”

Pam Lee’s 35-year-old daughter, Hilary, is a type of sufferers preventing for his or her lives. The restaurant supervisor was planning to get the COVID vaccine however contracted the sickness on the finish of September. Inside two weeks she was on a ventilator. 

“I used to be a nurse for over 40 years. And so I knew this might occur. I used to be praying it by no means would, however right here we’re,” Lee mentioned. “I can not even assume. It’s painful to observe, and these items might be prevented.”

Covid-19 Montana
The signal on the Billings Clinic on November 11, 2020. 

Lynn Donaldson/Bloomberg by way of Getty


Belsky urged individuals to speak to their family and friends about getting the vaccine. In Montana, solely 57% of these eligible to obtain the vaccine have been vaccinated, in line with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. 

“Clarify to them, ‘Yeah, it is getting higher in some elements america, however it’s getting worse right here,'” Belsky mentioned. 

After contracting COVID, Lee’s daughter spent days calling all of her unvaccinated buddies, telling them to get the shot. Her household can solely hope it isn’t too late for her. 



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