Billings, Montana — Montana, the first state to ban COVID-19 mandates for employees, has one of the lowest vaccination rates and the highest hospitalization rates in the country. Some hospitals have reached the point of not accepting new patients and are preparing to ration care.
The intensive care unit at Billings Clinic is operating at 175% capacity. Dr. Jaimee Belsky, an emergency room doctor there, is trying to keep up with the crush of COVID patients. The hospital's emergency department is "beyond slammed at this moment," a spokesperson said, adding that the department has 9 ICU patients and 13 others waiting to be seen.
"I keep a scalpel in my pocket in case we have an emergency airway," Belsky said. "We're getting to where if we don't see an improvement in the number of patients, soon we're going to have to start looking at do we need to ration care?"