Hamilton's Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital has used these few weeks of low COVID-19 incidence in Ravalli County to do some preparation. On the hospital website, Administrator John Bishop introduced a list of measures the hospital staff has undertaken to address the COVID-19 threat. The hospital has already instituted a "No Visitor" policy and has postponed non-essential elective surgeries, along with pre-appointment phone screening protocols.

The hospital has been reporting resources and supplies daily through the Montana "Juvare" tracking system. The hospital put out a call for Personal Protective Equipment and masks March 20. The Bitterroot Valley responded with "thousands of dollars' worth of PPE and thousands of additional masks" - including handsewn masks. And there are new services at the facility. The Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital website was updated this week with much more information, including:

Along with improvements to the ICU suites, the Marcus Daly Surgery Center now has a Negative Air Pressure Surgical Suite to prevent virus spread, and the Birthing Services has a Negative Air Pressure birthing suite in the event of "a presumptive or confirmed COVID-19 positive birthing scenario." The hospital has also conducted some "in-vehicle" swab testing of patients. A new Marcus Daly Respiratory Services facility opened this week as part of the Bitterroot Physicians Clinic. It is a medical triage for those with acute respiratory symptoms. If you have a fever or breathing problems due to influenza, pertussis and COVID-19, call (406) 375-4762 and they will determine if the Respiratory Service is the right fit for you.

John Bishop, in his message to the community, wrote: ""Slowing down the spread of the COVID-19 takes a village. Our community has proven we are in this together. Your healthcare providers and hospital team are very thankful for your commitment to follow the CDC guidelines and for the multiple donations of personal protective equipment: these efforts have given us the time to prepare."