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Western Hospitals Filling With COVID Patients With Few Places To Send Them

Inside the ICU at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah.
Inside the ICU at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah.

Hospitals continue to fill up across the Mountain West, and that means some patients may have nowhere to go.

Some Idaho doctorsexpect to startrationing care next month. Meanwhile, Wyoming depends on states all around it. But like Idaho, hospitals in Utah, Colorado and Montana are filling up and may not be able to help.

In Sheridan, Wyo., hospitals are using telehealth to treat critical COVID-19 patients they normally would’ve transferred to Billings, Mont., because Billings can’t take them.

“Generally these people are people that we would send, and there’s no availability. You can’t send them,” said Dr. Ian Hunter, chief of staff at Sheridan Memorial Hospital in Wyoming.

He’s thankful that Billings is still able to take trauma patients “and I don’t know how they’re doing it, at 150% capacity or whatever they’re running at...No idea how they do what they do.”

As numbers grow region-wide, though, that could change.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio News. To see more, visit Boise State Public Radio News.

Madelyn Beck is Boise State Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. She's from Montana but has reported everywhere from North Dakota to Alaska to Washington, D.C. Her last few positions included covering energy resources in Wyoming and reporting on agriculture/rural life issues in Illinois.
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