Low on beds, Kalispell Regional prepares for potential spike in coronavirus patients

(KPAX) KALISPELL — Kalispell Regional Hospital is expressing concern over the rise in COVID-19 cases and their number of beds.

Dr. Doug Nelson with Kalispell Regional Medical Center told MTN News that their COVID unit has 12 beds dedicated to coronavirus patients.

“We’ve been concerned, as our numbers have risen to as many as ten patients. Where do we go next for our COVID patients?” Nelson said.

With the rise in COVID cases in the Flathead Valley, Nelson said the hospital is wondering what to do next. He said the hospital has carefully thought through each step, including keeping the COVID unit isolated from the rest of the hospital.

“We’ve taken extra efforts to actually make the entire unit a negative pressure room,” he said “So, there’s not airflow coming from the COVID unit to other clinical areas. It’s a zip in through an impermeable barrier type of unit. We very much restrict who can go in there. And healthcare workers have to wear full personal protective equipment.”

Nelson told MTN News that COVID patients at Kalispell Regional Medical Center are from the Flathead Valley as well as other counties, and the hospital has a plan if an outbreak happens.

If an outbreak happens, he said different floors of the hospital will be dedicated for COVID-19 patients ranging from slight symptoms to critical. There would be over 20 beds available for those with coronavirus.

He added that the third floor of Montana Children’s hospital was also recently renovated to house overflow non-COVID-19 patients. In anticipation of another spike, Nelson said the hospital is in the process of hiring traveling nurses.

“Bringing in a relatively small number of traveling nurses now, but with the ability to scale up again, if we have another significant outbreak here and more patients to take care of,” said Nelson.