Minnesota hospitals face capacity challenges for the second Thanksgiving in a row

Allina Health told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that it operates at or near capacity throughout its 11-hospital system. According to Boland, Mercy Hospital’s intensive care unit is also full this Thanksgiving.

“Our intensive care unit has had a lot of capacity, and at least half of these people have been people whose primary problem is COVID respiratory failure,” she said. “The vast majority of the patients I take care of who have COVID, which is bad enough to need an intensive care unit, have not been vaccinated. The people who have been fully vaccinated typically have an immunosuppressive condition. ”

The latest data from MDH shows only four manned intensive care beds available in the metro. There are 39 non-ICU adult hospital beds available.

In the northeastern region of the state, there are no ICU beds for adults. In the Central Region, two adult intensive care units are available. Other regions show more accessibility.

“It’s honestly demoralizing, it’s exhausting,” Boland said. “It’s really difficult because we in the intensive care unit are really experiencing the benefits of vaccines. One of the things that COVID vaccinations are best for is preventing people from getting critically ill.”

As cases increase, the hospital also faces staffing challenges.

“Staff is a big, huge problem,” Boland said. “It takes a lot of time to train someone who can be a critical nurse and on our team […] the turnaround of increasing our pool of people who are really good at providing critical care is years. “

Allina EMS Operations Supervisor Kerry Callahan is also dealing with staff shortages. Her team of first aiders “certainly runs a lot harder.”

She said the shortage – combined with typical calls and the added burden of the pandemic – means team members often work without breaks.

“They have less time between calls to rest, eat,” Callahan said. “They’re definitely feeling the extra weight of everything right now.”

Allina’s EMS call volume is currently 20-40% above normal, reflecting the increase in COVID cases.

“The numbers are rising and we are definitely feeling it on the street,” she said. The type of call we are typically sent to for someone who is sick with COVID, it will be either shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or a “sick”, is what we call it. I certainly see an increase in the kind of call that sent into the air, only anecdotally. “

Allina Health also reports increased waiting times in the emergency room and delays in finding open rooms for emergency departments that are hospitalized.

“These hospitals have a capacity or above, and it definitely affects the throughput of these patients, and then it seeps downstream to our crews and also causes a little bit of backup at times,” Callahan said.

She urges Minnesota residents to explore their vaccine options and consider getting a shot – a feeling Dr. Boland shares.

“Today is a day to think about what blessings we have and how to use them to make someone else’s life better,” said Dr. Boland. “This time last year, I was not supposed to be near my parents. I was not going to go into the COVID room and then potentially take it home to my parents because they are unvaccinated. And this year I’m going to see my parents, so vaccination is a blessing to me, and it’s kind of resonating in the lives of the people I know and in the lives of people I do not know. So it’s one of many blessings that people can share with others. “

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