After receiving a formal request from Benefis Health System this morning, Governor Greg Gianforte today announced he is sending 20 Montana National Guardsmen to the Great Falls hospital to support its COVID-19 response.
“On behalf of a grateful state, I thank the men and women of the Montana National Guard who are stepping up within their communities to serve their neighbors,” Gov. Gianforte said. “As we face a surge in new cases and hospitalizations, the best long-term solution to this crisis is for Montanans to talk with their doctor or pharmacist and get vaccinated. While we will not mandate vaccination in Montana, vaccines are safe, they work, and they can save your life.”
The 20 Guardsmen will begin assisting Benefis next weekend, bringing the total number of Guard assisting in the state’s COVID-19 response to 107. The Guardsmen will support staffing with non-medical ICU assistance, environmental services, patient data entry, and COVID testing.
Yesterday, the governor announced 70 Guardsmen would begin assisting hospitals across the state this week and next. Of the 70, 10 Guardsmen today began assisting St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings.
The governor first announced Montana National Guard assistance to hospitals last week, with 10 Guardsmen supporting Billings Clinic and seven supporting the state lab.
A summary of the formal requests received and being fulfilled by the state since last week are as follows:
• On September 15, St. Peter’s Health in Helena submitted a formal request for 10 Guard. This request will be fulfilled with 10 Guard.
• On September 15, Billings Clinic in Billings submitted a second formal request for 10 additional Guard. This request will be fulfilled with 10 Guard.
• On September 15, St. James Healthcare in Butte submitted a formal request for six Guard. This request will be fulfilled with six Guard.
• On September 17, St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings submitted a formal request for 10 Guard. This request was fulfilled on September 22 with 10 Guard.
• On September 17, Missoula County submitted a formal request for 24 Guard. This request will be fulfilled with 24 Guard.
• On September 20, Bozeman Health in Bozeman submitted a formal request for 10 Guard. This request will be fulfilled with 10 Guard.
• On September 22, Benefis Health System in Great Falls submitted a formal request for 20 Guard. This request will be fulfilled with 20 Guard.
The state is working directly with and anticipates additional formal requests for Guard resources from several other hospitals. At the direction of the governor, all hospitals have received a COVID-19 response resource guide, which includes step-by-step instructions on how to submit a formal request for Guard resources.
The governor’s office will continue to provide resources to hospitals to help them secure necessary staffing and proactively and directly collaborate with hospitals to help address needs as they arise.
At the governor’s direction, Montana Disaster and Emergency Services is assisting hospitals in the process of securing full reimbursements from FEMA for their COVID-19 staffing needs.