Gov. Gianforte Secures Agreement with Feds to Increase Hospital Bed Capacity

Governor's Office
  • September 24 2021

HELENA, Mont. – Governor Greg Gianforte today announced the state secured an agreement to use open beds at the Fort Harrison VA Medical Center to support hospitals’ COVID-19 response. 

“With more hospital beds available, hospitals now have another tool in their toolbox to treat Montanans in need of care as their systems are strained,” Gov. Gianforte said. “While this is another important tool, the best solution to this crisis remains Montanans talking with their doctor or pharmacist and getting vaccinated against COVID-19. We will not mandate vaccination in Montana, but these vaccines are safe, they work, and they can save your life.”

After collaborating with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), FEMA, and other federal agencies since last week, the state submitted a formal request to FEMA Region 8 on Wednesday. The request included permission to use two acute care beds and four medical surge beds at the Fort Harrison VA Medical Center for immediate and short-term medical treatment to support Montana’s COVID-19 response.

This morning, FEMA approved the agreement for use of up to six beds by any eligible facility in the state in need of additional capacity.  

These beds will be used to care for critical and non-critical COVID positive and non-COVID positive patients who are not otherwise eligible to receive care from the VA. The VA will accept patients if it has the capacity and capability to provide required care.

To further ease strain on hospital capacity, last week, the governor announced the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) issued an emergency rule making it easier for hospitals to transfer certain patients to other health care facilities, freeing up needed hospital beds.