Billings hospital staff scrambling as ICU fills with COVID patients

Posted at 8:51 AM, Oct 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-17 11:02:31-04

BILLINGS — Not only are hospital beds filling up fast in Montana, at Billings Clinic, the intensive care unit is full.

ICU nurse Deanna Evans says the ICU is “beyond capacity,” and more than half of the patients are on a ventilator.

The hospital now has coronavirus patients in almost every department throughout its campus. It's to the point now that medical teams, after much evaluation, are working to move patients together into the same room.

This week, staff moved husband and wife Stacey and Eloise Stewart Jr. into the same ICU room, and their children must now view their parents through a window.

Billings Clinic is reaching new records every day, and this peak in cases is tough on families and on the Billings Clinic team.

"We'll continue to provide the best care we can and create the spaces that we need to keep creating, but we implore the community to think twice," said Deanna Evans, a Billings Clinic intensive care unit nurse. "Give it a chance. We've seen peaks and valleys. When tougher restrictions are in place there are lower cases, when fewer restrictions are in place, there are higher cases. We look at the trends and think what we would do for our families and our neighbors."

The hospital is now in the process of building four additional ICU rooms, and will see a wave of extra help when 75 temporary staff from across the nation arrive next week.

There were 665 new cases and five new deaths added to the total on the Montana COVID-19 tracking site on Friday morning. The data below is from the official Montana website on October 16:

  • TOTAL CASES & RECOVERIES: There have been 21,595 cumulative cases statewide, with 13,212 people recovered.
  • HOSPITALIZATIONS: There are 319 current hospitalizations, and a cumulative total of 986 hospitalizations.
  • DEATHS: The cumulative number of deaths in Montana is at 235.
  • ACTIVE CASES: The state reports there are currently 8,148 active COVID-19 cases in Montana.
  • TESTING: There were 5,630 completed tests, for a new cumulative state-wide total of 425,462.

Numbers reported by the state each day occasionally differ from those reported by county public health departments due to periodic lag times in reporting data to the state. We encourage people to check the official website and/or Facebook page of their respective county health department for any information that is not yet included in the state's daily updates.

Based on additional data from county public health departments, MTN News is reporting the following:

  • Deaths: 251 (+16 from state)
  • Active: 7,701 (-447 from state)
  • Recoveries: 14,104 (+892 from state)
  • Total Cases: 22,056 (+461 from state)

It's important to note that not every person who tests positive actually becomes ill or exhibits symptoms. Many do not; of those who do become sick, some experience mild symptoms and do not require hospitalization. Others, however, do require hospitalization, as noted in the daily update on the number of people hospitalized. However, every person who does test positive for COVID-19 has the potential to spread the virus to other people, including family members and friends, which is why public health officials continue to encourage everyone to wear a mask and maintain at least the recommended six feet of "social distance" when in public.