Contact: Lauren Brendel, M.S.
Bozeman Health is actively coordinating their communication, preparedness, and response activities for COVID-19 and formally activated their health system Incident Command structure on February 10, 2020. Bozeman Health’s System Incident Command remains active to scale its response due to increasing global spread of COVID-19.
Over the last several weeks, the Bozeman Health COVID-19 Response Team, led by Kallie Kujawa, System Director of Quality and Safety, Dr. Mark Winton (Infectious Disease and Travel Medicine Specialist), Dr. Eric Lowe (Emergency Medicine), and the Infection Prevention Specialists has prepared the health system, including Big Sky Medical Center and b2 UrgentCare Big Sky for a possible sustained community transmission of COVID-19, with the assistance of others in the Incident Command team, including Dr. Kathryn Bertany, president of Deaconess Hospital and Big Sky Medical Center.
Birgen Knoff, System Director of Clinical Practice and Emergency Operations Manager, has been partnering with the COVID-19 Response Team to continue to build a systemwide structure to coordinate entity activities as well as coordinate with the Montana State Healthcare Coalitions, EMS, and city and county agencies, including Gallatin City-County Health Department. The many other critical members of the COVID-19 Response Team have been and continue to be incorporated into the Incident Command structure, with operational and clinical support from every Bozeman Health care site.
Formal situational reports, daily status emails, and on-demand communication (including emails, phone calls, meetings, etc.) are regularly being shared with Big Sky Medical Center and b2 UrgentCare employees and medical staff to keep all employees and medical staff providers throughout the health system informed about the rapidly changing environment.
Big Sky Medical Center Current Status
Big Sky Medical Center is prepared for and has the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to collect specimens to send to the state lab in Helena for COVID-19 testing. Specimen collection, and subsequent COVID-19 testing, is based on individual evaluations of persons who come to Big Sky Medical Center and that evaluation is based on the guidelines from the local and state health departments and the CDC and includes review of symptoms, medical history, and travel history. It is important to note that the current COVID-19 test is not reliable when specimens are collected from people who do not have any symptoms.
Medical supply monitoring and management information is being shared daily throughout the health system to ensure each care site has the supplies needed to care for their patient populations.
Enhanced visitor restrictions for Big Sky Medical Center are in effect due to the influenza virus and COVID-19 precautions:
- People with symptoms of respiratory illness/infection (cough, runny or stuffed nose) or fever are prohibited from visiting patients that are hospitalized.
- Persons of any age who are sick should only come to the hospitals to seek care for themselves.
- Hospitalized patients are permitted one healthy, asymptomatic visitor at a time as medically necessary. Visitors or companions under the age of 18 are not allowed.
- Patients in the emergency departments are only allowed one medically-necessary companion; no other visitors are permitted.
- Any patient who is confirmed positive or is under active investigation as an inpatient or in the emergency department at either Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital or Big Sky Medical Center for COVID-19 will not be permitted visitors.
For persons visiting their Bozeman Health medical provider, a clinic, b2 UrgentCare or b2 MicroCare:
- If you are sick (fever, cough, or sore throat), please do not visit or accompany a patient to their visit unless the patient is a minor, and do not enter the care site or clinic except to seek care for yourself.
- Only one visitor or companion of a patient may accompany the patient if medically necessary.
Bozeman Health General Emergency Preparedness
Bozeman Health provides expert, quality care to patients each and every day. Emergency preparedness is an important component of our daily operations to assure we are able to provide optimal care to both patients and staff in any situation.
Bozeman Health has an emergency preparedness plan that was developed using best practice materials from FEMA, along with an emergency preparedness team that regularly meets and conducts emergency response drills at entities throughout the health system.
An important component of Bozeman Health’s emergency preparedness plan is a close working relationship with Gallatin City-County Health Department, Gallatin County Emergency Preparedness, and other partners including Montana State University, which Bozeman Health maintains through active participation in the All-Hazards All Disciplines (AHAD) quarterly meeting held by Gallatin County Emergency Preparedness. Participation in AHAD includes training classes, conducting drills and tabletop exercises and collaboration on process and procedure for handling incidents or emergency situations as a larger community.
More than 20 Bozeman Health leaders and clinical team members, including three Big Sky Medical Center employees, have completed comprehensive training in Healthcare Leadership in Mass-Casualty Incidents at FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama in the past year as part of continuous emergency preparedness training and development efforts. Much of the work required for emergency preparedness is done behind the scenes but is a critical component of Bozeman Health Big Sky Medical Center’s day-to-day operations.
Healthcare Incident Command Structure
Bozeman Health utilizes the standardized FEMA hospital incident command structure which works within the framework of the National Incident Management System to ensure they are organized in their approach to the situation and are partnering with other agencies in the community as needed.
Bozeman Health has and will continue to stand up Incident Command whenever activation of the emergency operations plan is warranted in response to a situation. Incident Command is a component of an emergency operations plan that ensures primary activities or functions necessary to effectively respond to incidents are appropriately identified, resourced, and managed. Incident Command is centralized for the entire Bozeman Health care system to ensure standardized, consistent policies, procedures, and guidelines at every care site.
Gallatin City-County Health Department is the best resource for public health information. Bozeman Health has added information to their website, BozemanHealth.org, regarding COVID-19 preparedness and will continued to add content appropriately.