Minnesota Hospitals Strained by COVID-19

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Day 241: Stay Safe Minnesota

Minnesota hospitals and clinics are reportedly overwhelmed by unprecedented rise in new COVID-19 cases and current situations are said to be ‘dire’.

The skyrocketing daily COVID-19 cases in Twin Cities and greater Minnesota is threatening to overwhelm state’s health care system, according to Gov Tim Walz and executives with two of the state’s major health networks, writes the MPR News. Dr. Penny Wheeler, CEO of Allina Health, said in a recent briefing with reporters “Current conditions are ‘very dire’, the virus is sickening health care workers — it’s sidelined 800 Allina workers — and the state’s health system is ‘getting perilously close’ to being unable to care for everyone who needs it”.

Another healthcare executive Dr. Cindy Firkins Smith, president of Carris Health CentraCare in Willmar, Minn., told reporters during the briefing, ‘the rising numbers of health care workers unable to work due in some way to COVID-19 had put an unprecedented strain on their systems and that they needed people to follow state guidelines and stay home for Thanksgiving to avoid spreading the virus’.

“The people working in the hospital not only don’t get to celebrate with the people they love, they’re going to be watching people die that day. And they don’t want to watch you die at Christmas. So please don’t (gather). Just this year, please don’t.”

We’re at a dangerous point in this pandemic. How we act, and how this virus moves, will have huge implications on the number of people who will be hospitalized and, ultimately, those who will lose their lives.

Gov. Tim Walz (source: MPR News)

In the Star Tribune, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Jeremy Olson writes his one walk through experience in local Regions Hospital’s COVID-19 intensive care unit and highlights the scope of the medical crisis emerging from a fast-spreading pandemic. “On this Thursday morning, 28 COVID-19 patients are in intensive care, with 12 spilling beyond the designated unit to areas designed for heart problems, strokes and surgical recoveries. A total of 97 COVID-19 patients have been admitted to Regions, which is almost full”.

Dr. Jerome Siy, head of hospital medicine for HealthPartners, which operates the St. Paul hospital told Olson “when we see so many people suffer and so many people who die, that is painful for us”.

Olson writes that there is shortage of healthcare workers throughout the state. “HealthPartners on Friday reported 308 workers absent due to COVID-19 infections and 414 who were quarantined due to viral exposures. Collectively, the Allina Health, CentraCare and Mayo Clinic systems reported more than 3,000 such absences last week”.

“There’s no beds anywhere. It’s become like a game of chess over the entire state.”

Dr. Matthew Klee, Mercy Hospital (Source: Star Tribune)

According to a recent CNN reports, more than 900 Mayo Clinic staff members diagnosed with Covid-19. “The risk to health care workers now is increasingly outside the hospitals and COVID-19 units, where caregivers know who has the virus and how to take precautions” Writes Olson. To contain the virus spread from outside sources, some hospitals and clinics have started implementing enhanced COVID-19 visitor restrictions.

Coronavirus Pandemic Watch

According to the MDH latest tally (as of Nov 23, 11 a.m.) the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota are 276,500 (out of 3,837,304 tested) with 3,265 deaths. According to Johns Hopkins database (as of Nov 23, 2:26 p.m.) there are 12,349,443 confirmed covid19 infection with 257,274 deaths. Globally the covid19 virus has infected 59,004,131 with 1,393,736 deaths.