Recent COVID-19 surge putting more pressure on rural hospitals

McKenzie County Healthcare Systems bed
McKenzie County Healthcare Systems bed(KFYR)
Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 5:49 PM CDT
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WATFORD CITY, N.D. - The latest spike in COVID-19 cases has made bed availability a challenge for many hospitals across the region. For rural hospitals, being able to transfer critical patients is becoming a problem.

During last year’s surge, smaller hospitals like McKenzie County Healthcare Systems had an arrangement with larger hospitals to transfer COVID-positive patients. Now, CEO Daniel Kelly says they have to take in those patients because there are no available beds in the state. He says their availability and ICU size is a challenge.

“Knock on wood, thus far we have been successful in the patients that we have cared for and when patients have needed ICU, we’ve been fortunate to find and fit them within that window that we could transfer them. This is opportune, it’s what we are doing because we have to do it,” said Kelly.

McKenzie County Healthcare Systems has a total of 24 beds, but with current staffing, it can only use 12 of those beds. Staffing is already a big problem for many hospitals and keeping employees healthy is another issue that limits availability.

“We have staff that are then exposed to COVID and are mandated to quarantine so that becomes a problem in of itself,” said Kelly.

Kelly says beds at the facility are currently full and he is pleading with the community to remain vigilant in combating the spread of the virus.

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