14:54 PM

Kalispell Regional Healthcare readies Alternative Care Site to support potential COVID-19 surge

Kalispell Regional Healthcare (KRH) will have an Alternative Care Site (ACS) ready to receive patients in early December, in preparation for a potential patient surge within the state due to COVID-19. The ACS, one of two facilities constructed last spring in Montana by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under a Mission Assignment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), was established to serve the region in the event of pandemic escalation.

“We’re honored that KRH was selected as a site for an ACS and are thankful to have this resource for Montana hospitals,” says Cory Short, DO, hospitalist and physician leader at KRH. “With the increase in COVD-19 cases across the state, having this additional capacity and staff support from the State of Montana will help provide relief to healthcare systems and provide patients with needed healthcare services.”

The ACS at KRH was built in the vacant third floor shelled space of Montana Children's. It can support a 100-bed patient care unit comprised of modular patient pods, nursing stations, and an open visitor area with views of Whitefish Mountain Resort and Glacier National Park. Initially, KRH will prepare 50 beds for use and can operationalize additional beds as needed.

As Montana hospitals reach patient capacity, this facility allows non-COVID patients to be monitored and treated in a safe, separate area isolated from COVID-positive patients. The facility will be operated by a team of skilled, licensed staff comprised of FEMA state-contracted employees and KRH employees. While the facility is temporary, without the full amenities of a traditional hospital room, KRH will provide digital entertainment and inpatient advocacy teams in an effort to assure quality care and patient comfort.

“Currently, Montana hospitals are operating at a critical capacity, but have not reached the point of patient overflow,” continues Dr. Short. “In the event of a patient surge, the ACS at KRH will be prepared to care for our state’s patients.”

Facts about the ACS

  • An Alternative Care Site (ACS) is a facility that is temporarily converted for healthcare use during a public health emergency.
  • Throughout the nation, the FEMA-led COVID-19 Pandemic Response team mobilized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build ACSs to reduce unnecessary burden on hospitals and other healthcare facilities, help infected patients maintain isolation, and allow low acuity patients to be monitored and treated.
  • Last Spring KRH was selected by the State of Montana’s COVID-19 Task Force as one of two locations in Montana for construction of an ACS to serve the region in the event of pandemic escalation.
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed the facility under a Mission Assignment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
  • The ACS was built out in the vacant third floor shelled space of Montana Children’s, includes modular patient pods and nursing stations and has the capacity to support 100 beds.
  • Non-COVID-19 patients will be admitted to the ACS to create more capacity for treating patients infected with COVID-19 in hospitals’ acute care settings.
  • The ACS is funded by FEMA without any cost to the hosting facility. The State of Montana is responsible for the supplies and equipment outside of the FEMA funded construction. FEMA is funding the 75 percent federal cost share for the project and the State funds 25 percent.
  • When the pandemic ends, the State of Montana will remove the patient pods and equipment and store them at a State facility for other future ACS needs.