National Guard Helps SHC Combat COVID-19

The Montana National Guard started helping the Sidney Health Center (SHC) combat COVID-19 on Saturday, Oct. 2. Montana Governor Greg Gianforte sent out four Montana National Guardsmen to assist the Environmental Services Department at Extended Care and the Hospital.

During September, SHC has experienced a rapid increase in COVID-19 related cases, ranging from three to seven COVID-19 inpatients daily.

"As a result, our hospital census has averaged 18 inpatients per day, which is running at or near capacity for Med/Surg and ICU areas," noted Pam McGlothlin, SHC Nursing Services Senior Executive.

SHC is a critical access hospital, which means we are licensed for 25 inpatients (Med/Surg – 16 beds, ICU – 3 beds, and Maternity – 6 beds). When the census runs near capacity, SHC must evaluate what services they can continue to offer such as elective inpatient surgeries.

SHC needed the guardsmen not only because of the rising cases of COVID-19, but also because the Environmental Services department has been running short-staffed due to sick leave, family obligations, and unfilled open positions.

With the help of the National Guard, SHC has additional resources that allow the Center to continue to provide a clean, safe environment for patients, residents, and staff. Their assistance supports the clinical staff by cleaning areas so that patient flow continues in the clinic, ER, and hospital settings.

Cleanliness of the environment is one the components of the national hospital inpatient survey that is measured by CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) regarding quality and perception of patient care.

"A clean, safe environment mitigates the spread of infectious disease and keeps patients, residents and staff healthy," added McGlothlin.

The governor's office will continue to provide resources to hospitals to help them secure necessary staffing and collaborate with hospitals to help address certain needs.

Sidney Health Center expressed that they are thankful that the state is deploying the National Guard to help assist healthcare workers as COVID-19 cases continue to rise and impact access to medical care in rural areas.


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