State secures nursing teams to support rural hospitals

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

HELENA – Gov. Steve Bullock secured five teams that will include five nurses per team from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to assist critical access hospitals in rural areas of the state with caring for patients.

"I’m grateful for this critical support that will help to keep the doors of our rural hospitals open and ensure that patients in rural areas can receive care as COVID-19 continues to spread throughout Montana," Bullock said. "We must get our hands around this virus and ensure that no matter where we may live, we are all working together to do so."

Critical access hospitals are currently facing nursing shortfalls with the increasing number of healthcare workers testing positive or quarantined due to COVID-19. This additional support for rural hospitals will help prevent patients from having to be transferred to higher care facilities in urban areas of the state.

Bullock first submitted the request to FEMA and HHS two weeks ago, and the request was approved Oct. 28. Three teams, with a total of 15 nurses, will arrive in Montana the middle of next week. Those teams are anticipated to support rural hospitals along the Hi-Line and in Eastern Montana. The other two teams are expected to arrive following the response to a hurricane in the South.

The state requested the teams be in Montana for 30 days and operations will be coordinated through the Montana State Emergency Coordination Center (SECC).