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Montana’s care homes struggle with staffing and ever-changing regulations as COVID-19 cases rise | State & Regional

During the first three months of the pandemic, Coe kept a bed in his office because he didn’t want to infect his family and wanted to reassure his staff he was there for them.

“Health care and our industry didn’t bring this to the state, but we’re living with choices everybody makes whether you gown up, mask up, you wash your hands — whatever happens, if it gets into the facility, we have to live with whatever happens,” Coe said.

‘Staff doesn’t grow on trees’

The Montana Health Care Association serves long-term care facilities in the state, and many have reached out to get answers and support, according to Rose Hughes, the association’s executive director.

“To me it has just brought forth a whole new experience and lots of questions about how should these things be handled,” Hughes said in an interview in September. “What can you do? Because staff doesn’t grow on trees and facilities have trouble hiring staff as it is.”

Hughes said that several assisted living facilities have reached out for help.

She said the association has asked DPHHS multiple times for written guidance for assisted living facilities.

“Usually the response was, well, they need to follow CDC guidance,” she said. But, trying to navigate the CDC website for answers can be daunting.

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