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The latest news about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Montana.

Nurses: Missoula County Health Officials Need Your Help

Missoula City-County Health Dept Director Ellen Leahy at whiteboard, and COVID-19 Incident Commander Cindy Farr, during a March 15, 2020 briefing on coronavirus cases in the county.
Edward O'Brien
/
Montana Public Radio
Missoula City-County Health Dept Director Ellen Leahy at whiteboard, and COVID-19 Incident Commander Cindy Farr, during a March 15, 2020 briefing on coronavirus cases in the county.

Missoula County health officials continue their intensive investigation into the first two local COVID-19 cases announced Saturday evening.

The two patients are now isolated in their homes. Now health officials need to track down who the two have recently been near. And they could use some help.

Are you a nurse; maybe a retired nurse or a recent nursing school graduate who could use a little extra income? If so, Missoula County public health officials would like to meet you.

"We are trying to get more nurses, so we need registered nurses to apply to help work on this incident," says Missoula City-County Health department Incident Commander Cindy Farr.

Farr says the department is staffing-up to identify anyone who may have been in close contact with the two patients announced presumptively positive for COVID-19, as well as those who are almost certain to be diagnosed in the future. Farr says they’ve tried to hire more nurses to help, but without much luck so far.

"We need as many as we can get to apply. We have had very minimal response at this point. Definitely contact our human resources at Missoula County because we do expect that this is going to generate quite a workload, so we’re trying to get extra staff in to help with that."

[Related: Montana Coronavirus And COVID-19 News]

Farr suspects other local health care facilities have hired lots of nurses as they also prepare for more COVID-19 cases.

Missoula City-County health department director Ellen Leahy says the agency has enough money in reserves so she doesn’t have to worry about how to pay for the additional hires.

"We’re pretty frugal, so we don’t spend wildly, but I did have to tell the staff a couple of weeks ago, 'Start spending that money.' They said, 'You don’t usually say that.'’ And I said, 'That’s correct. Start spending that money.'"

Missoula officials predict the next few weeks will be challenging and disruptive, but that all essential services will continue. To encourage social distancing, the county has updated its list of services that can be accessed online or by phone. That can be found at missoulacountyblog.com.

Missoulians are asked to help one another whenever possible by avoiding large public gatherings and close contact, fighting the impulse to horde and practicing good fundamental hygiene.

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