Amid nursing shortage, Sanford Health’s resources stretched to capacity
FARGO, N.D. (KVRR) — COVID-19 cases in the region are surging during a critical shortage of nurses.
Sanford Health Fargo’s vice president says the hospital is in crisis. Essentia Health’s resources are also being stretched to capacity.
“The time is now to take some action,” said Sanford Medical Officer Dr. Doug Griffin on Tuesday.
Griffin predicts Fargo is two to three weeks away from a peak in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
“We really are in a crisis. Hospitals across the region are full with COVID and non-COVID patients,” he said.
Those at Essentia Health in Fargo say they often have limited ICU-bed availability and a busy emergency department.
Sanford is opening additional units, reducing surgeries by 30% and reassigning some staff to critical care roles.
“I was just talking with our Chief Operating Officer; we think this is the most dire staffing situation we’ve ever faced,” Griffin added.
Griffin estimates the shortage at between 200 to 300 nurses in the Fargo region. He said, “The staff have been, I’ve been incredibly proud there, stepping up and working hard, but they’ve got families, they’ve got other things to do in their life, and at some point, even extra money isn’t necessarily enough to get people to want to work extra.”
As with other healthcare providers in the region, Griffin adds Sanford is scouring for travel nurses.
“At the same time, I want to make a plea to our community to do their part and help slow the spread of the virus: get vaccinated,” he said. “There’s no better way to reduce the burden on the healthcare system, and it’s a significant burden.”
On Tuesday, Essentia Health had 15 COVID patients, including four in the ICU. Out of 141 COVID-19 patients hospitalized at 22 Sanford hospitals on the same day, 123 were unvaccinated.
“Our average age of hospitalization, including critical care, has dropped down into the fifties, including those in the ICU. I want to stress: 90% or more of our patients in the hospital are unvaccinated,” Griffin added. “The best way to support healthcare workers who are working very, very hard is to get vaccinated so you or a loved one doesn’t become another patient in a hospital.”