Healthcare Systems Prepare for COVID-19 Surge
Testing in this region remains limited, only available to specific groups
DULUTH, Minn. – Local healthcare systems are preparing for a surge in coronavirus cases in the Northland.
Healthcare officials warn that more than two million Minnesotans could get COVID-19 before the end of the pandemic, so enough hospital beds and equipment have to be ready to take in a surge of patients.
Both Essentia Health and St. Luke’s are offering more TeleHealth and eCare options to patients. Essentia staff tell us they are now approaching five-hundred eCare visits every day.
Those alternatives promote social distancing and save personal protective equipment for facilities to use when there’s an increase in coronavirus patients.
Healthcare systems are now looking into converting outpatient beds into additional intensive care beds. They’re also looking at how to get facilities that don’t usually care for the sickest patients ready to fight COVID-19.
“How can we use them when the surge happens and we’ve run out of beds here in the Twin Ports. We’re probably going to have to be doing some thinking beyond that such as do we get an external facility ready for us,” said Dr. Jon Pryor, President of Essentia Health’s East Market.
Healthcare officials say COVID-19 is likely spreading broadly across the state.
They want to increase testing to get a more accurate count of confirmed cases. Then they will know which people to isolate to slow the spread.
However, testing resources remain limited in this region, so testing is still only happening with select groups of people.
“At this point we continue to focus on people who are ill enough to be hospitalized, healthcare workers or frontline first responders who are ill, and also symptomatic individuals who live in a congregate setting,” explained Dr. Nicholas Van Deelen, Chief Medical Officer at St. Luke’s.
Medical professionals say if you think you have the virus, stay home, and don’t go out into public until seven days after your symptoms start or three days after your fever ends, whichever is longer.