Military teams help increase Minnesota hospital capacity | www.WDIO.com

Military teams help increase Minnesota hospital capacity

WDIO-TV
Created: November 24, 2021 11:37 AM

Two emergency military medical teams are now in Minnesota as part of an effort to increase hospital capacity in the state.

The teams are at St. Cloud Hospital and Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. Though neither is in northeastern Minnesota, patients are sometimes transferred between regions of the state.

As of Tuesday, the Minnesota Department of Health said there were no adult ICU beds available in northeastern Minnesota and four pediatric ICU beds available. For non-ICU beds, only 7.7% of adult beds and 23.8% of pediatric beds were available.

LINKMinnesota's COVID-19 Response Capacity

The military teams are now training in Minneapolis and St. Cloud with the hope of being able to see patients by Thanksgiving. They include doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists that are tasked with helping ease the workload for current medical staff. 23 military members are stationed at HCMC.

"It's pretty unique in that we are doing it in the states, but for the most part it's the same relative mission, with regard to how we go an integrate with whatever individuals we are supposed to and do our job...which is to provide outstanding medical care," said Air Force Lt. Col. Brandon Shealey.

The military help comes a week after Minnesota officials requested federal assistance.

Governor Tim Walz hopes the federal team can help ease some stress. He spoke to the media after visiting HCMC on Tuesday.

"Listening to the folks upstairs, I asked staff point blank, 'you've been at this 20 months, how does it feel now?' Without a doubt everyone of them said it's worse now than it's been, it's harder on us now than it has been," Walz said.

The military medical teams are deployed for 30 days at a time, but their time in Minnesota could be extended.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota National Guard will deploy 400 members to reinforce nursing staffs at long-term care facilities that have been struggling with severe personnel shortages. They will start training as certified nursing assistants and as temporary nursing aides over the next week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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