Crisis care guidance endorsed by governor

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

HELENA – Crisis care guidance developed by a working group that includes medical providers, medical ethicists, disability representatives, emergency preparedness planners and hospital administrators was endorsed by Gov. Steve Bullock Dec. 22.

"Montana has made progress over the past few weeks in reducing the number of new positive cases and hospitalizations after a worrisome peak in mid-November that led to hospitals at or nearing capacity," Bullock said. "It is my hope that Montanans will continue to remain vigilant so that we never get to a point where health care workers have to rely on this guidance. However, we must also ensure that we are prepared for anything and that medical workers have every tool at their disposal."

The working group first convened in the spring of 2020 and has finalized consistent guidance for medical providers and staff across the state in the event scarcity involving medical supplies, space and staff were to arise due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The group continues to meet and update the plan, so it remains relevant for current circumstances.

"The guidance put forward today represents the work of a broad-based, collaborative working group including representatives of disadvantaged and disabled persons across Montana. The guidance is based on fundamental, well-accepted ethical principles and standards. Using examples from across the United States and abroad, we modified existing plans to fit the unique needs of Montana and our population. We hope that Montanans take the necessary steps to limit the spread of COVID-19, including wearing masks, practicing social distancing, washing hands frequently, quarantining when appropriate, and getting vaccinated against COVID-19 when the vaccine becomes widely available, so that we never need to ration the care we provide to patients. If we all do our part to protect ourselves and our neighbors, we should have sufficient resources for all who need care," said Dr. Alex Kon, Medical Director, Pediatric Intensive Care, Community Children’s, Missoula; Immediate past-President, American Society for Bioethics and Humanities.

"By endorsing this guidance Gov. Bullock and the Montana Department of Health and Human Services are providing an important tool for healthcare workers in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and our preparations for all scenarios. This guidance will help ensure fairness, transparency and consistency in the delivery of care for all Montanans in the event of resource scarcity or crisis care. By working together to limit the spread of COVID-19, masking up, socially distancing, and following public health guidance we can prevent the need for crisis care in Montana," said Dr. Nathan Allen, Department Chair and Medical Director, Billings Clinic Emergency Department; Medical Director for Healthcare Ethics, Billings Clinic.

Bullock and the Montana Department of Health and Human Services are endorsing the plan to ensure preparedness and continuity in addressing resource limitations and resource allocations decisions.

The Crisis Care Guidance can be found at this link: https://dphhs.mt.gov/publichealth/cdepi/diseases/coronavirusmt#924781017... .