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Published on August 13, 2021

Billings Clinic Classic street party cancelled due to rising COVID-19 cases; campaign to build new NICU continues

In light of the recent increase in COVID-19 in our community, the Billings Clinic Foundation is announcing the cancellation of the 2021 Billings Clinic Classic street party, which was planned for August 28 in downtown Billings.

This year’s Classic is dedicated to raising funds in a $3.5 million campaign to build a new, state-of-the-art Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to take care of Billings Clinic’s tiniest patients and their families, and the Billings Clinic Foundation continues to raise funds for this important cause.

“Canceling the street party was the last thing we wanted to do, but it’s the best decision we can make in the current environment,” said Amberly Pahut, Billings Clinic Foundation Senior Director of Philanthropy. “We made this decision as a team with guidance from Billings Clinic’s infectious disease experts who have been working so hard to inform and protect our community. We’re continuing our campaign to support the new NICU, and we hope the community will join us in that support.” 

Classic street party ticketholders can choose to donate the ticket cost toward supporting the NICU project, or receive a full refund.  The scheduled golf tournaments, where physical distancing is much more achievable, will continue as planned, along with the annual raffle and silent auction, which will be held online.

“We strongly encourage everyone to take all of the recommended steps to get through this COVID pandemic – masking, physical distancing and hand washing – and get vaccinated if eligible, so that we can come back next year with another amazing Classic event,” Pahut said.

The NICU at Billings Clinic already provides outstanding care, with highly trained physicians and staff who are dedicated to their newborn patients who need that extra level of care.  As needs have increased and technology has advanced, the NICU has outgrown its current physical space.  The NICU project will expand to 14,000 square feet and include technological advances so that the physical space matches the incredible care delivered there, with modern, spacious, comfortable and private areas for families and staff. 

The most common reasons babies are admitted to the NICU include premature birth, respiratory distress, hypoglycemia, and neonatal abstinence syndrome, which is when a baby is withdrawing from certain drugs they were exposed to in the womb prior to birth. The smallest among them stay for an average of 90 to 100 days, and 25 percent of the babies are transported to Billings Clinic from other communities in our region through the highly trained Billings Clinic MedFlight service.  The Billings Clinic NICU team is on-site 24 hours a day, and includes four physician neonatologists, neonatal nurses, pediatric specialists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, pharmacists, lactation consultants, and respiratory therapists.   

The Billings Clinic NICU opened 22 years ago.  Since then, technology and the delivery of care have changed dramatically. One of the biggest changes over the years has been the increasing integration of families into the care of their babies. There is evidence that parents are critically important to a baby’s wellbeing while in the NICU and when they are present, the outcomes are improved, costs are reduced, and there is greater family and staff satisfaction.

In the current space, which was state-of-the art when it opened 22 years ago, care areas are stationed in open bays separated by curtains, without internal walls and doors, which makes noise very difficult to control. Privacy during this challenging time for families is minimal, and there is a lack of natural light given the NICU’s current location in the center of the Family Birth Center. The tight quarters impacts parents, making it difficult for them to comfortably stay with their sick child.  Funds raised will help to create a greatly improved patient and family experience, bring in natural lighting to promote healing, enhance patient and family privacy, create dedicated family space for overnight stays with a private restroom, outfit the NICU with the latest technology, and include space for supplies and equipment.

To support Billings Clinic’s smallest patients and the construction of a new NICU, call the Billings Clinic Foundation at 406-657-4670 or go to


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