The hospital in Montana's largest city is in crisis as unvaccinated patients overwhelm the state's healthcare system.
"The state announced 1,209 new cases on Friday, and Yellowstone County, home to Billings Clinic, is seeing the worst of it. Last week, the county had 2,329 active cases, more than the next two counties combined," Nick Ehli reported for KHN on Tuesday.
"What's different from the early scenes of the pandemic is the public's response. Not so long ago, the cheers of community support could be heard from the hospital parking lot. Now, tensions are so strained that Billings Clinic is printing signs for its hallways, asking that the staff members not be mistreated," he explained.
Christy Baxter, the hospital's director of critical care, said the ICU was operating at 160% of capacity.
"Threats have on occasion required a police response. Screaming, profanity-laden insults are a daily occurrence. One patient threw his own feces at a doctor. Some, even in the face of an intubation tube, question the need to be vaccinated or the effectiveness of the medicine being prescribed," he reported.
Also on Tuesday, Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte announced that he was doubling the number of National Guard troops deployed to the hospital. He also announced deployments to hospitals in Bozeman, Butte, Helena and St. Vincent, the other hospital in Billings. He also deployed troops to Missoula county.
Under Gianforte and the GOP legislature, Montana is the only state to ban vaccine mandates for employees.