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Hospitals get creative to treat surge of patients

With ERs overflowing with patients, hospitals get creative with care
With ERs overflowing with patients, hospitals get creative with care 02:02

MINNEAPOLIS -- Hospitals and clinics say they are pulling out all the stops to maintain patient care at a time when there's a strain on the system. 

Sometimes there are no traditional beds or rooms available. So, hospitals have gotten creative finding places to treat patients. 

Administrators at Woodwinds Hospital in Woodbury say they've gotten used to thinking outside of the box over the past few years.

"We've had to convert some of our spaces to be used differently," VP of Medical Affairs Will Nicholson, M.D. said.

Places like hallways, waiting rooms and offices. This week it included transforming the cafeteria and atrium into a place for emergency department patient care.

"We have to be able to plan for and adapt to an ED that's super busy or an ED that's overflowing. Mainly overflowing has been the standard," Nicholson said.

Nicholson says it takes talent, tools, technology, and a lot of choreography to maintain a high level of patient care.

"It takes so much more energy and so much more effort to operate in an environment like this and hard to sustain long term," Nicholson said.

The challenges are happening across the metro and the state.

"It's a really difficult time right now," Helen Strike with Allina's Capacity and Surge team said.

Strike says they've had to resort to providing patient care in hallways and waiting rooms when needed.

"For patients coming in and needing to be triaged, you may find yourself triaged, treated, and discharged from the chair you came into," Strike said.

Strike says Allina created a surge plan, but so far has stopped short of activating it.

"There are times and days where we think about it and say is this it," Strike said.

Experts say there are ways you can help: get your flu and COVID-19 shot. Stay home from work or school if sick and wash your hands.

Opt for virtual care if you don't need to be seen immediately. And accept an open bed at an alternate location if it's offered.

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