(KPAX) The staff at Missoula's two main hospitals said they are more prepared than ever to handle an influx of patients as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise.

As the number of COVID cases quickly rises in Missoula County, hospitals are taking precautions to keep patients and staff safe.

“The hospital itself, we are back to a no-visitor policy which helps us really maintain the integrity and safety of the facility," said Community Medical Center CEO Dean French.

Both CMC and Providence St. Patrick Hospital are testing all admissions for COVID, and masks are mandatory for all.

French and Providence CEO Joyce Dombrowski said they are in a good position to handle an increase in COVID patients, should that happen.

“We now have 20 negative pressure rooms in the facility, three months ago we had five, so we’ve really improved our footprint in our capacity to take care of COVID patients," French told MTN News.

“We challenged ourselves on where could we put patients, how could we deal with sort of an unexpected number of patients and all of those plans could happen tomorrow so we’re prepared, we remain prepared," Dombrowski added.

If the number of patients increases dramatically in a short amount of time, the hospitals have worked together along with the local health department and others to mitigate overcrowding issues.

“We have put in as much predictability, built that into the surge planning as possible. We’ve worked with Community Medical Center as an example," Dombrowski said. "And so we would look at sort of total number of beds available to take care of COVID patients in the county. We’ve worked with our critical access hospital partners around us to educate and agree on what types of patients they would have the opportunity to take care of.”

French said it’s important for the community to understand that, with all the safety measures in place, those in need of medical attention should feel safe and secure about coming to the hospital.

“People really shouldn’t be scared to come to the hospital. We’ve taken abundant precautions to make sure it’s a safe environment and we don’t want people delaying care and potentially putting their lives at risk because they’re afraid to come to the hospital.”

Both Dombrowski and French are urging those in the community to wear a mask when you’re out in public, and to stay clear of large gatherings.