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Video: Essentia ER doctor outlines capacity concerns

Nov 10, 2020 04:46AM ● By Editor
An Essentia Health ER doctor is concerned they may soon reach capacity. Photo: WDIO-TV

From WDIO-TV - November 9, 2020

What Dr. Andrea Boehland is seeing is concerning her. 

She's an ER doctor for Essentia Health, and she says hospitals across Minnesota are near capacity. 

"Hospitals all through Minnesota, especially in the ICUs, are very close to full," Boehland said. "And what that translates to is not just for COVID patients but for anyone who needs an ICU for any reason, it's tight."

It's a combination of COVID-19 patients and patients who put off care for other conditions in the spring and when COVID-19 first became a major story. 

"If you are sick, we still very, very much want to see you. And we currently are still very able to care for you very well," she said. "But we're worried that if things continue on their current trajectory that that might change. And that's a really scary concept for us."

Hospitalizations are a lagging indicator, so it will take longer for beds to fill after cases spike. 

Dr. Boehland said she understands the temptation to brush COVID off because most people do recover. But she said the few people who get very sick strain the system because they often stay in the ICU an unusually long time. 

"On Tuesday ... I actually took care of three patients whose lives were forever changed who are younger than me with COVID," Boehland said. "I'm a pretty young, healthy person. But these people were too, all three of them younger than me. And all three of them are going to have their lives permanently altered by the consequences of their COVID. All in one day."

She said it's scary to see those cases. 

"So now is the time to think about your holiday plans. I'm so sorry to say that. But now is the time to think about creative ways to celebrate this year, outside, masked, distanced," she said. "We have to show our love and our respect for our families in a different kind of way this year."

She stressed that if hospitals hit or exceed capacity, the implications go beyond COVID patients to anyone needing treatment. 

To watch the original report and see related stories, follow this link to the WDIO-TV website.

Watch the WDIO-TV Report here

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