THE LOCAL NEWS OF THE MADISON VALLEY, RUBY VALLEY AND SURROUNDING AREAS

Stay the course – surge plan created

COVID-19 peak to come in about two weeks

Four weeks – 28 days – since the first local COVID-19 case, and the pandemic is set to peak in this area in a little over two weeks.

“According to multiple forecasts, it appears the COVID-19 peak in our service area, which includes Gallatin, Madison and Park counties, will occur the week April 27, 2020. At peak, we anticipate as many as 100 COVID-19 patients to be under active care in Bozeman Health Hospitals, 83 of them being medical floor inpatient admissions in Bozeman or Big Sky and 17 of them being ICU admissions,”  Bozeman Health president and CEO John Hill explained during the most recent Gallatin City-County Health Department press conference on Friday, April 10. 

Bozeman Health leaders worked with industry experts and academics to build the projection model for short term COVID-19 forecasting, using statistical data sets from the World Health Organization and Johns Hopkins University. 

“Based on this modeling our health system is implementing a surge plan that allows for the accommodation of a 20% daily inpatient growth rate until we reach our peak, with a full planning horizon that covers the next eight weeks, which is April 7-June 2,” he said. “This peak and duration anticipates that our communities continue to adhere to moderate containment measures and imply that testing remains limited across the state.”  

Leaders within Bozeman Health collaborated with industry experts and academic organizations in building a projection model for short term COVID-19 forecasting and built the model by accessing the statistical data sets available from the World Health Organizations and Johns Hopkins University. 

Hill spoke to impressive community and business efforts to help the hospital acquire disposable and reusable personal protective equipment in the midst of a national shortage. Of those efforts, a collaboration between Bozeman Health and Montana State University could have tremendous community benefit, lowering the time frame for attaining COVID-19 test results from 24 hours down to 4-6 hours. 

“Using a quantitative PCR machine that acts like a kind of molecular photocopier, amplifying the unique molecular fingerprint of the virus to facilitate testing of patient samples, MSU researchers and clinical Bozeman Health lab specialists have been working to validate the PCR machine’s capability and calibration,” he said, thanking the university as well as Bozeman Health pathologist Dr. Chris Nero and Bozeman Deaconess lab manager Doug Smoot for their efforts. 

This method has to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, which they anticipate should occur in 7-10 days. 

As things stand now, he said Bozeman Health will be able to complete 400 tests, with frontline health team members and first responders taking priority, followed by inpatients at the hospital or medical center who meet testing guidelines. As more supplies become available, Bozeman Health hopes to expand testing to the community. 

The state public health lab has run 1,335 tests for Gallatin County and 134 COVID-19 positive individuals have been identified. 106 cases are classified as recovered, which means they are no longer a risk to transmit the disease, Bozeman City-County Health Department officer Matt Kelley stated. 

“The pandemic has been difficult and costly for many, but our shared response has been unifying and at times inspiring,” Kelley said. “Throughout our community women, men and children have banded together to stay apart, to howl in support of the health care providers and create the distance that defeats the virus.” 

He urged community members to stay the course established weeks ago for the collective good of the community. 

“If we do not stick with it, if we become complacent about social distancing, we run a very real risk that all of our shared commitment and the enormous economic costs will be wasted as we see cases multiply along with hospitalizations and deaths,” he said. “We are not finished. We are not done. We need everyone to continue doing the things that we have been talking about for weeks. We need everyone to follow Gov. Bullock’s stay at home directive, which he extended to April 24.”  

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