Essentia and St. Luke’s Prepping for COVID-19 Surge

St. Luke's and Essentia Health-St. Mary's are gearing up for the worst-case scenario saying they would rather be over-prepared when the peak hits the Northland.

DULUTH, Minn. – Hospitals in the Twin Ports continue to prepare this week for the coming surge of COVID-19 patients.

Doctors say they are carefully watching hard-hit areas of the country and using that information so the Northland can protect as many people as possible.

St. Luke’s and Essentia Health-St. Mary’s are gearing up for the worst-case scenario saying they would rather be over-prepared when the peak hits the Northland.

Physicians are continuing to preach social distancing as COVID-19 cases rise across the Northland.

“If you must go out keep your mouth and nose covered and stay away from others,” said Dr. John Pryor, of Essentia Health East Market.

Essentia Health leaders say the clinic administered 116 coronavirus tests just on Tuesday alone.

The drive through testing sites Essentia has set up in Duluth and Virginia are mostly restricted to the public and used to test people such as healthcare workers and first responders.

Healthcare leaders say the best way to stop the virus from spreading in our communities is to just stay at home.

“I would treat everyone you run into as if they have COVID-19. There are lots of people I think the number is approximately 20% of COVID-19 positive patients are asymptomatic they don’t have symptoms so you can get it from people who don’t even know that they have it,” said Dr. Pryor.

Both Essentia and St. Luke’s were given $3 million grants this week to put towards the COVID-19 effort.

Essentia has purchased 38 ventilators and St. Luke’s bought 16.

However, due to supply chain issues, it is unclear when they will be arriving at the hospitals.

“We’ve been buying as much PPE as we can and we’ve been doing that since the end of December, the problem is the supply chain has been disrupted as the federal government is moving supplies to those places that’s the hardest hit,” said Dr. Nick Van Deelen, the Chief Medical Officer at St. Luke’s.

Physicians say they hope once places in the country pass their peaks, they will be able to get more equipment to fight COVID-19.

Virtual visits are also on the rise.

Just Tuesday, Essentia did 2,800 virtual visits with people who are feeling sick.

Both hospitals are asking people to use these virtual visits as much as possible.

For people who are not sure about using the technology, St. Luke’s is offering help people are encouraged to call ahead to get help with the curbside visit.


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