One of the reasons behind Minnesota’s new COVID-19 restrictions is the status of Minnesota hospitals.
Healthcare providers spoke to WCCO about the stress on the system, including cardiologist Dr. Rebecca Cogswell. She is one of more than a thousand healthcare workers who signed a petition in the last 24 hours, delivered to Gov. Tim Walz, backing new restrictions.
“We 100% need these measures, otherwise the results will be catastrophic for Minnesotans,” Cogswell said.
Hospitals and staff are strained, and doctors say without them, the immediate outlook is dire.
“The normal triage mechanism, where you have some, you know, stratification of who needs to be seen first completely falls apart, and it’s like you’re in a war zone,” Cogswell said.
One day last week, she says a Twin Cities emergency room feared they would lose a patient because of the strapped system.
“The patient was having intestinal bleeding and collapsed on the ER floor. Well, that could have been prevented,” Cogswell said.
Minnesota Hospital Association CEO Dr. Rahul Koranne says they’re reaching capacity to care for COVID patients, plus trauma and other illness.
“We have rooms, we have beds. What we are really worried about now are our nurses and our physicians who are getting COVID-19 in the community,” Koranne said.
He reports more than 7,000 healthcare workers were out during a one day check-in last week for COVID or quarantine.
“The capacity that we talk about now is care capacity, it’s not the spaces,” Koranne said.
Dr. Dimitri Drekonja, chief of infectious disease at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center, says for the first time in his nearly 20 years there, the VA is taking and treating patients who are non-veterans.
“You really need to know that this is bad. We have not seen our health system in this much stress ever in our careers,” Drekonja said.
He calls it an overwhelmed system.
“This is not us scaremongering. This is us seeing a wave coming towards us that we really hope we can survive,” Drekonja said.
A statewide command center dedicated to hospital capacity is in use right now. It coordinates care for hospitals across Minnesota to find a place for people who need it.