“Do we need to ration care?”: COVID patients 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 patients 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 sustain with the crush of COVID patients. The hospital’s emergency division is “beyond slammed at this moment,” a spokesperson stated, including that the division has 9 ICU patients and 13 others ready to be seen. 

“I keep a scalpel in my pocket in case we have an emergency airway,” Belsky stated. “We’re getting to where if we don’t see an improvement in the number of patients, soon we’re going to have to start looking at do we need to ration care?”

Pam Lee’s 35-year-old daughter, Hilary, is a kind of patients 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. Within two weeks she was on a ventilator. 

“I was a nurse for over 40 years. And so I knew this could happen. I was praying it never would, but here we are,” Lee stated. “I can’t even think. It is painful to watch, and these things can be prevented.”

The signal on the Billings Clinic on November 11, 2020. 

Lynn Donaldson/Bloomberg through 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 accordance to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

“Explain to them, ‘Yeah, it’s getting better in some parts the United States, but it’s getting worse here,’” Belsky stated. 

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 is not too late for her. 

Meg Oliver

Meg Oliver is a correspondent for CBS News based mostly in New York City.