Nurses ask for meeting with Gianforte about COVID-19

No response from the governor

By: - February 10, 2022 7:18 pm

Photo illustration by Getty Images.

If Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte won’t talk to the state’s largest nursing organization, they’ve decided, they’ll talk to him.

Several times, the Montana Nurses Association has requested to meet with Gianforte, in particular to discuss COVID-19. And so far, those requests have been met with silence.

On Wednesday, the MNA sent another request to the Gianforte administration. And as of Thursday afternoon, the group had not received a response.

The Daily Montana reached out to the Governor’s Office to see if it was planning to meet with the organization. It did not respond to press inquiries.

However, the organization has decided if the governor won’t meet with them, maybe he’ll read their comments and this month’s newsletter, “The Pulse,” has nurses responding to the questions: If you could tell the Governor one important message about COVID, what would it be; and if you could tell the public one important message about COVID, what would that be?”

Those answers, without names attached, run several pages of small print.

Montana_Pulse_2_22

Most of the responses underscore the necessity of taking COVID, and preventative measures like vaccines and masks, seriously.

“Please take this seriously as a healthcare issue, not a political one,” said one nurse.

Many of the nurses tell about how COVID and the state’s response have made it harder to do their jobs.

“We as health care professionals are not trying to ‘trick them’ into getting the vaccine,” one nurse wrote. “We are not the government trying to force a ‘jab.’ We are hard-working people trying to make a living for our families, just like the rest of the population.”

Others expressed frustration that vaccination and public health efforts have been accepted until COVID.

“(The public) has been taught the essence of science throughout your entire education – from first grade onward. Why question, now, the obvious positive protection of vaccinations,” one said.

Others said the decision about COVID will have long-term impacts the governor is not contemplating.

“Your hospital systems are broken. The staff is drowning,” one nurse wrote. “The COVID pandemic has exploited these holes and inefficiencies, and it is scary. Nurses right now are leaving at an alarming rate, and it’s only going to get worse if this same path continues.”

Another said, “You are not supporting hospital systems adequately. We are being forced to work in unsafe conditions.”

Some said that not enough people in government know about those who are dying in Montana’s hospitals.

“The folks who aren’t vaccinated and who proudly proclaim their identity as anti-maskers are dying every day. We will be in more trouble if your current platform sets the precedent for the next emergency Montana faces,” one nurse wrote.

At least a dozen nurses called on Gianforte to quit making COVID political and instead side with science.

“COVID is not a political tool to use to be anti-big government. Your lack of leadership is killing fellow Montanans,” one wrote. “You need to face the reality of where we are.”

Others appealed to Gianforte’s faith.

“As Christians, it is our job to protect the vulnerable,” a nurse wrote. “Jesus died on the cross so that we may live. The least we can do is follow the experts’ advisement so the vulnerable may live. If that means wearing a face cover and getting vaccinated, that is the very least we can do. Please.”

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Darrell Ehrlick
Darrell Ehrlick

Darrell Ehrlick is the editor-in-chief of the Daily Montanan, after leading his native state’s largest paper, The Billings Gazette. He is an award-winning journalist, author, historian and teacher, whose career has taken him to North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Utah, and Wyoming. With Darrell at the helm, the Gazette staff took Montana’s top newspaper award six times in seven years. Darrell's books include writing the historical chapters of “Billings Memories” Volumes I-III, and “It Happened in Minnesota.” He has taught journalism at Winona State University and Montana State University-Billings, and has served on the student publications board of the University of Wyoming.

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