Virus surge sends Minnesota hospitals looking for room

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota hospitals are scrambling to make room for patients as patients needing medical care for COVID-19 have hit a high for the year.

Hospitals have delayed non-essential procedures, diverted less serious cases to outpatient clinics, and treated emergency room patients in hallways and ambulance bays that have been converted to urgent care centers, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

“We don’t have anywhere to put our new patients as they come in,” said Dr. Mark Sannes, senior medical director and infectious disease specialist for HealthPartners. “Normally, they’d be up in an emergency room bed. It’s true across the state. We’re in constant communication with the other health systems … and there are no beds anywhere.”

The crunch in hospital capacity comes as health care systems are handling a backlog of medical procedures that were delayed during the first months of the pandemic. Hospital staff are also weary from battling COVID-19.

While some people who are fully vaccinated have been hospitalized, most people with severe illness are those who have not received a vaccine.