ND’s medical officers promote vaccines to stem COVID-19 outbreak | News, Sports, Jobs


BISMARCK – A 33% vaccination rate in Williams County has helped half of patients at Williston Hospital now test positive for COVID-

19, according to the medical director of the CHI Health Midwest District.

CHI’s Dr Cary Ward joined officials from the state’s other four major medical systems on Wednesday at Governor Doug Burgum’s virtual press conference on the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Other states with relatively low vaccination rates, like North Dakota, are seeing their hospital capacity stretched to the limit,” Burgum said. “We want to make sure that North Dakotas know the risk is real, that with the low vaccination rates that we have in parts of our state, we could end up in the same kind of position. It is therefore a call for preparation to citizens. We don’t want North Dakota ever to reach that point.

About 52% of North Dakotas aged 12 and older who are eligible for a vaccine received a first dose. North Dakota ranks 42nd nationally for its vaccination rate.

Active cases of COVID-19 in the state have reached 2,442, as the North Dakota Department of Health reported on Wednesday. Among them, 135 were hospitalized.

“Our largest numbers are in our western hospitals in Williston and Dickinson, then also in Bismarck”, said Ward, whose health care system includes 10 North Dakota hospitals that together reported 43 cases on Wednesday. CHI’s Williston Hospital had 10 patients in its COVID-19 unit, up from eight patients during the state’s COVID-19 peak last year, he said.

As of the end of July, Williams County had about 24 cases of COVID-19, which rose to 138 in the September 1 report.

“The numbers are clearly increasing. The beds are tight. Nurses are stressed. Ward said.

Burgum provided graphs showing that the increase in COVID-19 in North Dakota exceeded the increase seen around the same time a year ago, just before the state hit its dramatic peak.

Burgum noted that one in 180 fully vaccinated citizens tested positive for COVID-19, compared to 1 in 16 unvaccinated citizens. North Dakota’s vaccination rate is lower in western counties.

“This is important because we are now seeing that active cases in the state correspond to areas of low vaccination,” Burgum said. “Most of our hospital capacity to treat COVID is in the east, not the west. “

Hospital officials say they have worked together to move patients to facilities with the capacity.

“We try to work together as health systems to do our best for our patients”, said Dr Jeffrey Sather, chief of medical staff at Trinity Health, Minot. “But the number of patients and the limitations of the staff have reduced the ability to continue to do so in the long term.

“We need the public to work diligently again to be our partner and get vaccinated if you are not vaccinated. Start doing mitigation, like masks in public or cut back on gatherings and get back to some social distancing, so we can get through that next peak, ” he said.

Janice Hamscher, chief nurse at Altru Health System in Grand Forks, where 10 people were hospitalized with COVID on Wednesday, said the collaboration between hospitals was no further.

“We really don’t have unlimited resources”, she said. “So I appeal to individuals to truly take personal responsibility for protecting themselves from COVID by getting vaccinated.”

Essentia Health in Fargo has seen the number of COVID-19 patients grow from one or two inpatients per day to almost 10% of its inpatient population.

“We have had to refuse transfers from hospitals in search of higher standards of care. Almost every day, we are at full capacity ”, said Dr Richard Vetter, Chief Medical Officer of Essentia.

Unlike a year ago, when people postponed care during the COVID-19 outbreak, he said, the latest increase comes when health care providers are busy and capacity is brought up to speed. tough test.

Burgum added that the ability to access mobile nurses is also more restricted than a year ago due to competition from other regions that are seeing outbreaks of COVID-19 and a high cost for which there is no has not the old federal aid.

Sather said Trinity providers review elective surgery schedules daily to perform triage and determine whether other hospital staffing needs outweigh the need for certain surgeries.

“We have already postponed some surgeries for patients because of this need”, he said, adding that a discussion was also starting on where to best use clinic staff.

Sanford officials say Sanford Health in Fargo has cut surgeries by about 30% to free up staff to treat patients transferred from other facilities.

Dr Michael LeBeau, outgoing president and CEO of Sanford Health’s Bismarck region, said the healthcare system has revived its ethics committees.

“We are preparing to make tough decisions like we had to do the last time. These decisions include: “Who will have the next bed?” Who will have the next fan? And how many patients can you really support with a limited number of staff? “ he said.

Todd Schaffer, new president and CEO of the Bismarck area in Sanford, has identified 136 COVID-19 patients currently in the Sanford system in North Dakota and parts of Minnesota and South Dakota. Only seven of these patients were vaccinated. Of the 136 patients, 37 are in intensive care, including two vaccinated. Out of 19 people on respirators, all but one are not vaccinated.

Sather reported 24 patients in Trinity’s COVID-19 wing on Wednesday, including three in intensive care and two on ventilators.

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