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From the Fringe:Now more than ever, it's our job to protect our local health care workers


April 24, 2020

So, we’re going to start to open back up.

That’s the announcement by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock Wednesday, though, Bullock did ultimately leave all decisions on opening, or not opening, the services in his Phase I up to counties and cities and school districts.

So now the question becomes, is Montana ready? That’s not for me to say, and that’s not what I’m debating. Instead, my question is, are we, as residents of Havre, ready to open back up, but still do our part to keep coronavirus under control in our neck of the woods?

Havre has done a great job so far, and we should all feel proud of that. But, there’s work to do, and it sounds like the work we have to do is going to be here for the long haul.

So again, I’m asking, are we ready to do both? Are we ready to return to some sort of normalcy, while still taking the steps to keep the virus at bay, like we have so far?

I hope so, and here’s one of the biggest reasons why — our local health care workers.

In Havre, and the more rural communities all over Montana, our health care workers are not strangers. They are our family members, our closest friends, our next door neighbors, they are people we graduated from Havre High with, or folks we went to college at Montana State Univeristy-Northern with.

Unlike many big cities and metropolitan hospitals, here in Havre, when we go to Northern Montana Hospital, to the clinic or to Bullhook clinic, we aren’t helped and treated by strangers. Here, pretty much every one of us not only knows, but has a personal connection to someone working in our local health care industry.

Off the top of my head, I can think of about 20 to 25 people I know personally in our health care industry in Havre. From people I’ve known all my life, to folks I went to high school with, to kids (now adults) I coached in tennis, who work at the hospital, to parents of players I’ve coached or covered in sports, I know a lot of of our local health care workers, and I know many of you do too.

And, like our health care workers all over the country who have been on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19, the people I know in our local health care industry, they’ve been on my mind a lot lately, And just because Montana, and Havre in particular, has done a great job in helping to flatten the curve to this point, doesn’t mean we should relax. Relaxing would put our local health care workers right back in the crosshairs of this virus.

Just because Montana has become one of the first states to realistically put itself in a position to move towards a sense of normalcy, as Bullock laid out on Wednesday, doesn’t mean we can let our guard down. In fact, as we return to work, return to places like restaurants and the things that are re-opening in Phase I of Bullock’s plan, it’s my opinion our guard should be up even more, because we’re not going to be at home as much as we have been. We’re not going to be as sheltered as we have been the last month, and we need to recognize that and be diligent about continuing to follow the same protocols that have gotten us to where we are right now.

And we need to do that for our friends here in Havre on the front lines.

Fortunately, they haven’t had to experience the coronavirus like their colleagues in bigger cities have, and for that, I’m grateful. 

But because of that, it’s up to us to keep it that way. The protection of all of our loved ones and friends in the local health care industry is our responsibility as citizens of Havre, and residents of Hill County.

So, as we slowly start to return to some form of normal, lets do our part to make sure the same can be said for our health care workers. Let’s make sure we don’t do anything to put them in any more harms way than they already are because of COVID-19. Let’s make sure we’re protecting them, because they’ve done, and will continue to do such an amazing job of protecting us.

And lastly, I just want to say, to everybody I know in our local health care industry, and to all of you on the front lines in this fight against COVID-19, thank you. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.


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