Today we’ll compared the Sept. 20 DPHHS report about covid hospitalizations in Montana with their Sept. 13 report.
It says right on the report’s cover page that the reports are updated every Monday, but we didn’t get this week’s report until Wednesday morning.
Like many things in the economy, perhaps a staffing shortage caused the delay.
More and more are beginning to question whether our hospitals are actually full - as the media suggests - or if they’re simply dealing with too few staff:
“What I’m hearing, though, is staff at hospitals like St. Pats are leaving their jobs in droves and that is driving the staffing shortage,” RD wrote today. “I’m hearing the shortage is so bad that administrative personnel are doing things like changing the sheets on hospital beds.”
Let’s get into the numbers that the hospitals actually report to the state each week.
So for the entirety of last week (Sept. 13-17), Montana hospitals had 1,321 non-covid patients, 377 covid patients, and 712 open beds.
Comparing this to the week before, we learn that Montana hospitals saw 275 new non-covid patients from one week to the next; 15 fewer covid patients; and 102 fewer open beds.
So from Sept. 13 to Sept. 20, we actually saw fewer covid patients in our state’s hospitals.
Let’s look at the Missoula hospitals, which are supposedly having major issues right now.
Community Medical this past week had 31 non-covid patients, 21 covid patients, and 51 open beds. This hospital has nearly as many open beds as they have patients, putting to rest the argument that they don’t have enough space.
A more apt description of this hospital’s problems probably has to do with staffing.
Hospitals all over the country are short of nurses. Even travelling nurses are hard to find right now. Why is that? Are they burned-out...in quarantine...vaccine-hesitant...or just sick and tired of that job and they’ve moved on for good?
A report yesterday said some patients in Montana hospitals are throwing their own shit at nurses. Who’d want to work in that environment?
Yeah, shortages. It’s the same story all over the economy. I drove by a Jiffy Lube downtown last night that’s now closed indefinitely because they don’t have the staff.
Across town at St. Pat’s, we learn that this past week they had 116 non-covid patients, 30 covid patients, and 52 beds available.
At Community, they have 6 more covid patients than they had the previous week. At St. Pat’s they have 5 more.
For the first time ever, I’m seeing a red box in these reports. That comes up with Bozeman’s Health Deaconess Hospital. They have 69 non-covid patients, 26 with covid, and where it should list beds available, it instead lists 16 in red, meaning over capacity, or 90% of beds occupied.
This is the only hospital in the state reporting this...so far. The previous week, they had 5 beds available, with 15 covid patients and 66 regular patients.
Another ‘horror story’ in the media right now comes to us from the Billings Clinic. The big problem there is that their ICU is at 160% capacity, so they have to use hallways, and they’re running out of hallways.
They’re sure not running out of beds. Last week they had 88 available. And I imagine some of the 159 non-covid patients could probably go home.
But remember, if a non-covid patient is at home, the hospital isn’t making money.
I guess I just don’t understand.
If you have twice or three times as many regular patients as covid patients, and you have dozens of open beds...is it really a crisis?
A crisis for whom? The people that are in the hospital sick and dying? Most news reports say these folks are unvaccinated, so isn’t it their own fault? Aren’t we coming to the point in society where we want these people to die?
Putting them on a ventilator is one of the fastest ways to make sure they do die. The survival rate from that is abysmal. The lucky ones have a 50% chance to survive the vent; the unlucky have just a 3% chance.
When they’re so far gone that you’re going to hook them up to a machine that’ll likely kill them, why not just try some Ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine?
But our health system doesn’t think like that. I wonder how many had to needlessly die because of this.
We’ll likely never know.
In conclusion, it’s clear covid cases in Missoula continue to go up. It’s also clear that at each of our hospitals, over 50 beds are just sitting there, open and available.
The hospitals aren’t full. They might be short of staff - we have no way of proving that, and the hospitals are more afraid of lawsuits than public disclosure.
It seems to me the hospitals are dealing with a problem of their own creation - management can’t hire and retain staff, likely due to poor working conditions, too-long-hours, and low pay.
Something tells me if you doubled every nurse’s salary, word would get out to surrounding regions pretty quickly.
I bet that staff shortage would be gone real quick.
“Billings Clinic would hire more than 100 additional nurses if it could,” KPAX told us yesterday. “The staffing shortage is not unique to this hospital; it’s nationwide, meaning the needed help isn’t arriving anytime soon.
Baxter tells the story of a young nurse who quit, saying he had grown tired of lying to patients he knew would die.”
If the crisis is so bad, why isn’t the federal government allowing hospitals to use the tens of billions in covid relief money that has yet to be spent to hire new nurses or give the hospitals whatever else they need?
Maybe a White House reporter will ask Biden that question, though his handlers don’t allow questions.
So I can only assume the situation will just get worse. Thankfully, all the blame can go toward those that haven’t been vaccinated, ensuring we’ll never get this situation under control.
About 30% of this country simply will never get the vaccine, even if you say you’ll fire them, imprison them, or kill them.
They just won’t. A year ago, that would have been fine, aligning us with a 70% herd immunity rate. But those goalposts have been torn-down, never to go up again.
No, if it’s not 100% vaccination rate, there’ll always be someone to blame.
I wonder, even if we do get to a 100% vaccination rate and cases inevitably still keep coming, who will be blame then?