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Guest view: Bullock's steady leadership will keep Montanans safe

Guest view: Bullock's steady leadership will keep Montanans safe

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As healthcare workers across Montana, we applaud Governor Steve Bullock’s steady leadership and commitment to keeping Montanans safe during this unexpected and unpredictable public health crisis.

We are nurses, doctors, educators, administrators, and advocates, but we have one thing in common — we have all dedicated our careers to keeping our neighbors safe and healthy.

 Montana’s response to COVID-19 is deeply personal to each of us. We serve and work to support individuals on the frontlines of our healthcare system, and are witnessing the strain this pandemic is placing on our healthcare workers, clinics, and hospitals.

 Governor Bullock’s early, swift and decisive actions to combat COVID-19 helped to flatten the curve and keep our dedicated frontline workers from becoming overwhelmed, a scene we’ve seen play out in other states. We have been fortunate enough to avoid a similar fate because, from the very beginning, Governor Bullock set politics to the side and made his decisions based on science and the advice of public health experts.

 Governor Bullock created a taskforce to coordinate the state’s preparation and response to COVID-19 ten days before Montana confirmed its first case. He closed schools shortly after the virus breached our border. And he announced a stay-at-home order before most of the country, including states with bigger outbreaks and greater populations.

 Because of his early actions, until recently, Montana experienced the lowest rate of cases in the continental United States. And when the rates began to increase, Governor Bullock heeded the advice of public health experts and mandated masks in indoor spaces in counties with four or more confirmed cases.

 None of these decisions were popular with every person in our state, but instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, Governor Bullock took action tailored to Montana because he cares about the wellbeing of every person in this state more than scoring political points. That’s the type of leadership we need more of in government.

 Unfortunately, it’s the opposite of what we see all too often in Washington.

 In the midst of this global pandemic, politicians are working to strike down the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which protects people with pre-existing conditions and provides access to healthcare coverage. In the best of times, losing the ACA would be harmful. But trying to strike down the ACA during a global health crisis is downright reckless.

Fortunately, contrary to the dysfunction we see in Washington D.C., Governor Bullock was able to work with both parties to expand quality, affordable healthcare here in Montana and put us in the best possible position to limit the negative effects of COVID-19.

Governor Bullock twice brought Republicans and Democrats together to expand Medicaid, giving over 90,000 Montanans access to affordable healthcare and helping save our critical access hospitals in rural areas. He also worked with the Trump Administration to secure personal protective equipment and testing supplies for our state’s medical workers and ramp up testing to detect outbreaks of COVID-19.

This type of bipartisan leadership should be par for the course for public officials, but in reality it is incredibly rare.

Extraordinary times require extraordinary leadership, and that’s exactly what we have with Governor Bullock.

As healthcare professionals, we live every day with the consequences of our leaders’ decisions. We need clear, informed direction from those at the top to continue effectively serving our communities and keeping our neighbors safe.

That’s why we need Governor Bullock in the U.S. Senate.

Signers: Dr. Deb Agnew, pediatrician; Annie Brown, nurse educator; D’Shane Barnett, health administrator; Emily Coyle, health consultant; Laurie Francis, health administrator; Donna Greenwood, retired nurse educator; Jacquie Helt, SEIU 775; Cora Neumann, public health advocate; Jessica Scheer, nurse practitioner; Jane Smilie, health consultant; Buck Taylor, health administrator; Lora Wier, public health advocate and former public health nurse


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