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Home / World / COVID-19 Beyond Numbers: Frontline staff members say DOH bed capacity doesn’t tell the whole story.

COVID-19 Beyond Numbers: Frontline staff members say DOH bed capacity doesn’t tell the whole story.



Another 14 South Dakotas died from COVID-19. The number of active cases is close to 14,000. While hospital admissions set a new record, the South Dakota Department of Health reports that nearly 40% of ICU beds with staff are still vacant.

But that’s not what the ICU doctors and nurses at one of the state’s largest hospitals are seeing.

Dr. Anthony Hericks, vascular specialist, is the Critical Care Director of Avera McKennan Hospital

Week after week, the number of patients who need special care at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls is increasing. At the same time, a lot of staff got sick, many got coronavirus by spreading COVID-19 in the community. It’s the perfect storm to strain doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to the limit.

“You have normal people with heart disease, liver disease, lung disease, whatever reason they go to the hospital. Now you add a very debilitating, very serious illness, and you enter flu season. Now the speed of the marathon has increased and can we withstand the intensity and speed we are doing, while maintaining our mental and physical health? ”Said Dr. Herick.

SD Dept. of Health COVID-19 Bed capacity for employees on 11/04/2020

While the Department of Health gives hospital bed capacity for staff across the state, Dr. Hericks says that doesn’t paint a picture of what’s really going on in hospitals.

“You can look at the Ministry of Health website and they can talk about bed capacity, and they can talk about ICU beds and staff beds and so on. But when we talk about bed capacity, what we’re talking about is a bed of code. So if someone has a cardiac arrest in the hospital, we try to keep one of those beds and an ICU bed ready. Yesterday there were at least three or four people fighting over those beds, ”said Dr. Hericks.

“The ICU beds like the other hospital beds all have a rotating patient count and I think what you are describing there is correct. There are daily fluctuations in overall capacity and it reflects the fact that people get in and out of those beds, ”said SD Health Minister Kim Malsam-Rysdon.

People on the front lines see the randomness of how this virus affects people of all ages and are frustrated by their inability to help cure more people.

“But we have some sick people. We don’t know why. We only provide standard medical treatment. There is no magic bullet to fix and cure this, ”said Dr. Herick.

Medical staff taking care of a seriously ill COVID-19 patient at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls

Coming to the Eye on KELOLAND program on Wednesday we heard from Dr. Hericks about the adequacy of the hospital as well as the mental and physical damage the hospital is suffering to its medical staff. practice.

Plus, we heard from a new ICU nurse who never imagined she would be on the front lines of a pandemic.


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