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During times of crisis like COVID-19, staying organized, calm and collected is a challenging, if not unthinkable, task for some. For Sam Kaufman, Director of Emergency Services at St. Vincent Healthcare, this is second nature.
At age 19, she got started in emergency services as a paramedic in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, where she spent most of her adult life. By 21, she was a police officer, and by 23, an emergency flight nurse.
During her time in Texas, she was on-scene at disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the Joplin, MO tornado, as a member of the Texas Emergency Medical Task Force-1 (TEMF). The TEMF is an elite state and federally funded program with the mission of creating state-deployable medical teams, regionalized for rapid mobilization and readiness.
At age 37, she came back to Billings to be near her parents who were in poor health. Since her return, she has made a substantial impact to the quality of healthcare that is provided in our community.
On March 12, 2020, St. Vincent Healthcare fully stood-up its Incident Command in response to the developing situation surrounding COVID-19. Recognizing the need to act quickly to protect patients and staff, Kaufman immediately started developing plans for a drive-thru COVID-19 testing tent. Just 3 days later, on March 15, the tent was fully operational and saw its first patients. It has since been open 7 days a week, seeing as many as 60 patients per day.
The drive-thru testing was the first of its kind in the state of Montana. The unique process at the tent requires that patients not leave their vehicle, thus reducing the risk of spreading the virus. All registration, testing, and discharge orders are done through the patient’s car window with highly-trained St. Vincent Healthcare associates.
Sam’s quick thinking and proactivity in the development of the tent testing comes as a result of her lengthy background in emergency preparedness and management.
“It’s important that all of us try our best to stay ahead of the curve by innovating and implementing new ways of offering care, with the priority of keeping our associates and our patients safe, all day - every day,” Kaufman said.
St. Vincent Healthcare’s COVID-19 testing tent is open 7 days a week from 9am-5pm. If you think you need to be tested for COVID-19, please contact your primary care provider for screening.