Sanford in ‘crisis’ as COVID-19 cases surge during critical shortage of nurses

Sanford needs up to 300 nurses in the Fargo region immediately

FARGO (KVRR) – A vice-president at Sanford Health in Fargo says a growing number of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients have created a crisis for health care workers across the region.

“We really are in a crisis” according to Sanford Medical Officer Dr. Doug Griffin.  “Hospitals across the region are full with COVID and non-COVID patients. Here in Fargo, we are probably about 2-3 weeks away from peaking, in terms of COVID cases.”

Griffin says that out of 141 COVID-19 patients hospitalized at Sanford on Sept. 7, 123 patients were unvaccinated.  Thirty patients were on ventilators, but just two of them were vaccinated. “I want to stress…90% or more of our patients in the hospital are unvaccinated.”

“I long for the time when people rolled up their sleeves for polio or for smallpox. If those diseases were here now, I don’t know that we would have eradicated those successfully” Griffin said.

Griffin says Sanford is planning for another surge of patients by opening additional units, reducing surgeries by 30% and reassigning some staff to critical care roles. But he says Sanford is also facing a critical shortage of nurses.  He estimated the shortage at between 200-300 nurses in the Fargo region.

“We think this is the most dire staffing situation that we’ve ever faced” Griffin said. “We are basically scouring for travel nurses.”

Griffin also emphasized that Sanford Health supports mask mandates in K-12 schools.

“I know that schools have reached a variety of decisions on that, but we really feel very strongly that school districts should support the direction of the CDC, here locally Cass County Public Health, American College of Pediatrics and should be having universal masking for students and staff.”

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