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Health & Medicine

Dept. of Defense Sends Medical Teams to Minnesota

— November 17, 2021

Government medical teams will be sent to Minnesota to help fight surge of COVID cases.

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has announced that the Department of Defense will send medical personnel teams to two major state hospitals in order to provide more bandwidth for treating COVID-19 patients.  The state made use of its federal emergency funds in order to set up this additional care.  He said it would help “address hospital staffing shortages and emergency room overcrowding that would provide relief for long-term care, and fund hospital surge sites.”

The government stepped in just as a wave of new coronavirus cases hit the hospitals all at once and these facilities were blatantly understaffed.  The teams will consist of 22 trained professional each and will arrive at both Hennepin County Medical Center and St. Cloud Hospital beginning later this month.  The Department of Defense has indicated they will be able to help treat patients as soon as they arrive, and that there will be no additional training required and no wait times for patients already in critical situations.

Minnesota has become one of the country’s hardest hit areas for new cases of the virus as of late.  Hospitals are nearly at maximum capacity and the extra hands will help clear the beds sooner for new patients if cases continue to climb.  The extra help will also curtail burnout that has affected healthcare providers and has even caused many to leave the field, leading to larger gaps in care.

Dept. of Defense Sends Medical Teams to Minnesota
Photo by Vidal Balielo Jr. from Pexels

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm explained that she is prepared to increase access to booster shots, as well, in order to ensure all eligible individuals are able to receive the vaccinations as soon as possible.

“Our best defense against this is the vaccine,” Walz said, stating that Minnesota is at the top of the list for states that have been vaccinated, second only to Vermont, “And we know that that is our way out of this.  I need Minnesotans to recognize, as we’ve been saying, this is a dangerous time.”

Walz and Malcolm thanked U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar publicly for helping to pull together the federal response teams and said they hope more will be made available to assist other Minnesota hospitals that have already submitted requests to the government seeking the extra help.

“There’s just been a tremendous demand for those teams nationwide.  At this point in time, there are very, very few teams available to be deployed across the whole nation, so the fact that Minnesota’s getting two of them is great good news,” Malcolm said.

A skilled nursing facility has also agreed to serve as a “hospital decompression site for patients who no longer need acute hospital care but aren’t ready to go home,” Walz confirmed.  Patients will be transferred to Cerenity Senior Care-Marian in St. Paul, which will be able to provide care for 27 patients from Twin Cities hospitals.  Ten nurses from the federal Public Health Service and 15 nursing assistants from the Minnesota National Guard will provide transitional care at Cerenity, and similar sites have already been set up at Brainerd and Shakopee nursing homes for those in need of transitional care so more patients requiring acute care can be hospitalized.


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