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COVID In Minnesota: Beds Not Available For ER Patients As Hospital Capacity Pushed To Limits

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - Some Minnesota families are sharing their first-hand accounts of the state's hospital crisis and crunch for space.

Four regions in the state have just one adult ICU bed available right now and waits at emergency rooms will often take hours.

The surge in COVID cases and the staffing issues have all added up to more anxiety for Minnesota patients.

"It's like your worst nightmare coming true," Barbara Ojaniemi told WCCO.

Ojaniemi's 66-year-old mom, Charlene, had two stents put in last year. Doctors had been monitoring her condition closely until this fall.

"She had an appointment in November that had to be rescheduled because of COVID," Ojaniemi said.

Ojaniemi watched her mom start to struggle, until Charlene had to call for an ambulance at 1 a.m. Wednesday when she thought she was having a heart attack.

"When I got here I discovered they did not have a bed for her," she said.

Instead, her mom had a blood transfusion in the ER at Mercy Hospital. She waited 11 hours for a room.

"Agonizing hours of not knowing what's going to happen to my mom. Where is she going to get care? She needs care now," Ojaniemi said.

Surgery for Jenny Musolf's 70-year-old mom from St. Michael has been rescheduled twice in the last few months.

"Originally, she was scheduled to have her second knee replacement in October of this year," Musolf said.

It will now be April before Karin can get up and going again.

"There's always that fear that something is going to happen that makes the situation even worse," Musolf said.

The personal stories come a day after Minnesota healthcare workers made an emotional plea to get vaccinated and wear a mask, worried what the holidays could hold.

Dr. Shirlee Xie, an HCMC Hospitalist said "the reality is medical care is a limited resource right now and we are stretched beyond the breaking point."

"It can happen to you. If it's not, you it can happen to someone you love," Ojaniemi said.

Ojaniemi mom Charlene is doing much better now, but they are still trying to determine what exactly happened.

It's unclear how long she'll be in the hospital.


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