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Minnesota hospital struggles with latest wave of virus

Intensive care units are nearing capacity and healthcare workers are scarce in Minnesota, as coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all reaching levels not seen since vaccines became widely available.

All counties in the state are at high risk for community transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Daily new cases have increased 29% in the past two weeks and hospitalizations by 17%, according to a New York Times database.

The state’s daily case average is at an all-time high for 2021 and reached 2,932 Monday, a dramatic increase from the summer, when it hit a low of 81 daily cases on average.

As a multi-month surge driven by the Delta virus variant declines across much of the country, Minnesota is just one of many upper Midwestern and Western Mountain states where the virus is. spreading. Cases are on the rise and hospitals have been overwhelmed in North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, all of which have low vaccination rates. Some areas have had to ration care and send patients to remote hospitals for treatment.

The Minnesota Department of Health said the state push is overwhelming hospitals, with rural and metropolitan areas also stretched.

“Even before Covid cases started to increase in this latest wave, our hospitals were very crowded with patients in need of care for other critical conditions,” said Jan Malcolm, state health commissioner , at a press conference last week.

According to a state health department database, 96% of intensive care beds in Minnesota are in use, along with 93% of non-intensive care beds. Although the beds are near full capacity, the state is equipped with respirators to combat the wave, Ms. Malcolm said. The biggest problem now is the shortage of medical staff, she said.

“What’s important to understand is that it’s not so much about the physical assets of a hospital bed or a ventilator, and those were big goals earlier in the pandemic, but now it’s really a problem with the capacity of health care workers, ”said Malcolm. “There are actually fewer occupational health workers today than there were last year due to the extreme stress and burnout they have been facing for over 18 months now. . ”

Dr Kevin Croston, CEO of North Memorial Health, one of Minnesota’s largest medical systems, said “every part of our health care system is incredibly stressed.”

The two hospitals managed by North Memorial – North Memorial in Robbinsdale and Maple Grove Hospital – are operating near capacity and are experiencing staff shortages that have reached “critical levels.”

“The number of vacancies is increasing while the volume of our clients remains high,” said Mr. Croston. “We have rapidly scaled up measures to attract and retain talent in the health field, which adds additional expense to an already strained financial situation for all of these health systems.”

He also noted that not all patients hospitalized with Covid were vaccinated.

In Minnesota, 59% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated, compared to 56% of the population nationwide.

“With the amount of virus that exists and the amount of population that is not protected by the vaccine, there is unfortunately a lot of room for the virus to continue. do harm, ”Ms. Malcolm said.

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