Sick person with travel history in China placed in isolation in Bozeman

A person with a history of travel from China is sick and has been placed in isolation in Bozeman out of concerns of novel coronavirus, Gallatin County health officials said Monday.

The Gallatin City-County Health Department and Bozeman Health are working with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services and the CDC to coordinate care for the individual, assess the cause of the person’s illness and limit any risk of exposure to others.

MTN News has asked officials with RiverStone Health in Billings for an interview, but they said they couldn’t immediately comment Monday afternoon.

Local health departments nationwide are working to monitor individuals in the U.S. with a recent travel history in mainland China to limit the spread of the coronavirus, which originated in Asia.

“This is not unexpected,” said Matt Kelley, Health Officer with Gallatin City-County Health Department. “We have many people from our community traveling the world, and we have been preparing for this situation.”

He added, “Just because someone is not feeling well does not mean they have novel coronavirus. But we are using an abundance of caution so that risk to others is minimized. Now is the time for vigilance and caution, but the public should know that the risk to others in Montana is very low.”

In Montana, local and state public health officials have worked with 10 to 15 individuals who have travel history in China during the current outbreak but do not have any current symptoms of concern.

Five of those individuals have been in Gallatin County and are cooperating with Gallatin City-County Health Department and DPHHS to monitor their well-being and minimize potential exposures, according to health officials.

This local monitoring is part of a much larger effort to take all necessary precautions to make it as difficult as possible for the disease to spread. One element of this effort is to make sure that individuals with a travel history to China who become ill receive high-quality medical care in a manner that reduces possible exposure to others.

This means that sick individuals with exposure may be placed in isolation as a precautionary measure while local, state, and federal public health officials and health care workers investigate the situation and care for the individual who is sick.

Representatives with Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital said the organization is prepared to care for patients requiring any special precautions. Patients who come in to the hospital are appropriately evaluated, and if a patient is identified as needing special precautions, specific protocols and processes are immediately implemented for the care and safety of all.

Employees caring for patients with precautions in place use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to care for that individual, which can include the use of air purifying respiratory systems.

In any situation where a patient has precautions in place, Bozeman Health leadership and clinical teams are in frequent contact with Gallatin City-County Health Department and the CDC. The expert care, safety and privacy of all patients remains Bozeman Health’s highest priority, hospital officials said.