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Healthcare news from Montana Public Radio.

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Hospital monitor.
Josh Burnham / Montana Public Radio

The Montana Hospital Association says it fully supports the Bullock administration’s phased-in approach to rebooting the state’s economy. The hospitals represented by the association are now outlining their plans to resume elective surgical procedures.

  Community health centers across Montana provide care to people who wouldn’t have access otherwise. While they’ve had to pivot with COVID-19, their expansion of tele-health and new ways of connecting with patients could stick around well after the current pandemic subsides.

North Higgins Ave. in Missoula was mostly empty on the morning of April 3, 2020.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

The Montana coronavirus task force is expected to move forward with a gradual, phased reopening of the state after stay-at-home and other closure orders expire Friday at midnight.

On the same day last week that Gov. Steve Bullock announced the forthcoming plan, Republican legislative leaders launched a Facebook group calling for a strategy to transition out of the COVID-19 crisis.

A protester calls for the end of coronavirus restrictions at the state Capitol on Sunday, April 19, 2020.
Brad Tyer / Montana Free Press

More than three hundred Montana citizens and multiple Republican candidates for statewide office gathered at the state Capitol in Helena on Sunday, flaunting federal, state, and public health agency social distancing recommendations to express a range of opinions centered on the belief that it’s time for state directives closing schools and businesses to end.

Three Montana health care centers will receive a total of $1.4 million in the form of state emergency loans.

McCone County Health, a frontier critical access hospital and clinic in Circle, Glendive Medical Center, a critical access hospital for east central Montana and western North Dakota, and Alluvion Health, a community health center in Great Falls will receive short-term, low-interest emergency loans up to $500,000.

Vaping device

Montana’s temporary ban on flavored e-cigarette products officially ended Wednesday. But that doesn’t mean it’s back to business as usual for vape retailers.

Churchgoers walk out of the Hilton Garden Inn in Kalispell Sunday, April 12, where Liberty Fellowship held its Easter service in violation of Gov. Steve Bullock’s stay-at-home directive.
Aaron Bolton / Montana Public Radio

A nondenominational Christian congregation in the Flathead Valley is holding in-person services that public health officials say violate Gov. Steve Bullock’s stay-at-home order during the coronavirus pandemic.

Some worry that a viral video made by a Flathead county board of health member addressing churchgoers is helping sow misinformation and distrust in government social distancing directives.

An ambulance in front of Kalispell Regional Medical Center.
Eric Whitney / Montana Public Radio

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Flathead County reported Montana’s seventh coronavirus death on Monday, the same day the county’s largest hospital announced pay cuts for physicians and administrators along with temporary layoffs that will affect about 600 workers.

If you head outside around 8 tonight, you might hear a cacophony of humans, faces turned toward the full moon, howling.

The daily howl is a socially-distanced cry of support for health care workers on the front lines stemming the surge of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Brie Hobbs is one such worker, a registered nurse in the intensive care unit at St. Pat’s hospital in Missoula. She spoke remotely with Nicky Ouellet.

Health care worker holding a clipboard.

Federal assistance through the CARES Act is making its way to Montana health centers to help combat the costs of the COVID 19 epidemic. The funding comes from the Health Resources and Services Administration, or HRSA.

Montana is entitled to $9.1 million to support 14 health centers across the state. According to HRSA, that money must be put to use to prevent, respond to or prepare for the novel coronavirus.