Health officials highlight recoveries of two COVID-19 patients in Montana

Posted at 7:50 AM, Apr 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-09 10:20:25-04

BILLINGS — Two patients, one from each Billings hospital, were recently able to go home after being hospitalized with complications from COVID-19, according to Yellowstone County health officials.

On Sunday, April 5, a Billings Clinic patient returned home after being hospitalized in late March, admitted to the Intensive Care Unit, and placed on a ventilator for breathing assistance.

Also, on April 2, a patient at St. Vincent Healthcare was also able to return home after a week in the hospital.

The two are among the 31 Montanans who have been hospitalized for COVID-19 since the start of the outbreak, according to the Montana Response COVID-19 tracker. Five of the hospitalizations are from Yellowstone County, according to the Unified Health Command.

The Billings Clinic patient was critically ill with COVID-19 complications when the patient arrived at Billings Clinic in March and spent less than two weeks in the hospital. The patient also received assistance from doctors with the Montana Family Medicine Residency, which is sponsored by RiverStone Health, St. Vincent Healthcare and Billings Clinic.

“This was a true collaboration to provide expert, lifesaving care for this patient, and it is wonderful to see them go home,” said Nancy Iversen, a Registered Nurse, Director of Patient Safety and Infection Control at Billings Clinic and a medical-technical specialist with the Unified Health Command. “All care providers followed the proper guidelines for the care of this patient as well as to protect themselves and others from the spread of this illness.”

The patient, who is in their 50s, did not show any COVID-19 symptoms when they were discharged.

In late March, an 80-year-old Yellowstone County man, with underlying medical conditions, was admitted to St. Vincent Healthcare after experiencing two weeks of respiratory illness.

“COVID-19 was suspected from the beginning, so our team practiced exceptional isolation protocols that were followed from the moment this gentleman entered our care and throughout his entire stay,” said St. Vincent Healthcare Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. David Graham. “Despite his ailments, he did not require ventilation during his stay and was able to return home without any oxygen or rehabilitation needs.”

The patient was no longer contagious at the time of discharge.

Infection control and public health nurses will continue to monitor both patients, whose privacy is protected.

The severity of COVID-19 ranges from no symptoms to critically ill. Some critically ill patients need a ventilator to help them breathe.

The Unified Health Command, made up of RiverStone Health, Billings Clinic, St. Vincent Healthcare and Yellowstone County Disaster and Emergency Services, helps coordinate the county’s healthcare crisis response. If you think you have a respiratory illness, please follow this UHC advice:

  • If you are sick and have mild symptoms, stay home and self-isolate.
  • If you are sick enough that you would normally go to the doctor, call ahead to your healthcare provider for instructions.
  • To avoid spreading respiratory illnesses, please do not show up at a clinic, hospital, or testing site without calling in advance for instructions. A physician’s order is required for testing.

The Unified Health Command recommends these measures to reduce risks of respiratory illness, including COVID-19.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Follow the statewide stay at home order and only leave for essential services.
  • Avoid large crowds, especially in enclosed spaces.
  • Cover your coughs or sneezes with your sleeve or the inside of your elbow.
  • Maintain social distance to avoid possible exposure to viruses.
  • Avoid handshakes and hugs.
  • Frequently clean high-touch surfaces in your home or workplace.
  • Disinfect doorknobs, handles, keyboards, railings, remote controls, tabletops and counters

As of Wednesday at 10 a.m. (April 8), there have been a total of 332 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Montana, and six deaths (source/map). There have been three deaths in Toole County, and one each in Lincoln County, Madison County, and Missoula County.

There have now been 31 hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in Montana, and 135 recovered patients. The DPHHS public health lab in Helena has completed 7,398 tests for COVID-19.

Governor Steve Bullock said on Tuesday that he is ordering the extension of the "stay at home" order designed to curb the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Montana. The original order was issued on March 26 and runs through Friday, April 10. The extension will now last through Friday, April 24.

Bullock also said on Tuesday that public K-12 schools across the state will remain closed through April 24. Other directives previously issued by the governor have also been extended through April 24, including the closure of bars, casinos, and other non-essential businesses; the closure of dine-in service for restaurants; the temporary suspension of evictions and foreclosures; and prohibiting for now shutting off of utilities for nonpayment. RELATED: What businesses are considered "essential?

Bullock also recommended that Montanans wear cloth face masks when they're out in public, such as in grocery stores and pharmacies. He also extended the order requiring incoming travelers to Montana to enter into a 14-day self-quarantine.