Montana Public Radio

St. Peter's Health

Nurse working in a hospital / iStock

The Montana Nurses Association and St. Peter's Health based in Helena have ratified a collective bargaining contract for more than 300 nurses in the area. 

Ten large Montana hospitals this week are beginning to vaccinate frontline health care workers against COVID-19. The shot won’t be mandatory at one Helena hospital, which still expects most of its employees to get vaccinated.

Spokesperson Katie Gallagher said Tuesday roughly 70 percent of the 1,200 St. Peter’s Health employees who responded to a recent survey want or are interested in getting vaccinated. She said staff members wanted more information about the science behind the vaccine and known risks and benefits.

Hospital administrators in Montana say the recent rise in COVID-19 infections statewide could strain the health care system in coming weeks as patients become more ill and cold and flu season picks up. Health experts are making a plea for Montanans to “do their part” after more than 700 people have been hospitalized with the virus since it arrived in the state.

Dr. Scott Ellner, CEO of Billings Clinic, says the coronavirus pandemic is one of the more challenging situations his team has seen, but he says they’ve got this.

Gov. Steve Bullock signs an executive order, Sept. 4, 2019 declaring Big Sky Care Connect Montana's single state-designated health information exchange entity.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

A virtual network of patient medical records is under construction by state officials and a newly formed organization in Montana’s health care industry. Gov. Steve Bullock announced Wednesday that $19 million in federal funding is backing the developing information exchange.

Big Sky Care Connect is Montana’s latest attempt to link health care providers so they can more efficiently share patient medical information.

Influenza cases reported by week, Montana 2018-2019 season. Jan. 18, 2019.
Montana DPHHS

Flu season is well underway and as a result, some healthcare facilities in Northwest Montana are restricting visiting hours.

Kalispell Regional Healthcare announced Tuesday that children under age 13 won’t be allowed to visit Kalispell Regional Medical Center, The HealthCenter and Pathways Treatment Center after the facilities noted an increase in influenza admissions.