On Thursday morning, 82 white flags were planted on the lawn outside Providence St. Patrick Hospital to honor the patients who have died from COVID 19.

Chief Mission Officer Karen Myers spoke to KGVO News and said Providence staff members stood with bowed heads for 82 seconds of silence.

“We invited all of our staff to come out to the front lawn, which is along Broadway and McCormick and we invited all of the people who cared directly for the COVID patients who died to come forward and we placed the white flags in the ground representing every life lost,” said Myers. “It was very moving and very touching, and then we had 82 seconds of silence representing each one of those lives.”

Myers said as many staff members as possible attended the ceremony.

“It is a rather busy full day for us, so some of the staff was not able to break away as we have patients currently that we're caring for,” she said. “We will keep those flags in the ground for over the next week, and we will share photos and the story, and have been sharing the story of what we were going to do with every one of our staff members.”

Myers said staff members from every department, but especially the nurses were there on Thursday morning.

“It's really a way for the people here and especially the nurses and doctors and respiratory therapists, but most importantly, the nurses who took care of patients with COVID and especially those who lost their lives,” she said. “There's been over 610,000 lives in the U.S. that have been lost to COVID and we mourn all of those, but today we came together to mourn those who lost their lives within the walls of our hospital.”

Meyers also took the opportunity to encourage all Missoula residents to get their COVID vaccination.

“We'd love to strongly encourage everybody to get a vaccine, yes,” she said. “We do know that's a personal choice and there are many places around the community where those can happen. I think we know how effective they are. The science has shown us that and we're definitely seeing it help reduce the rate of the pandemic. So yes, we would strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated.”

To date, there have been 115,002 cases of COVID-19 in Montana, with 1,694 deaths. In Missoula County, there have been 9,490 cases, with 99 deaths.


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