ND patients turned away at hospitals amid omicron surge

Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 7:46 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - As cases rise, North Dakotans are experiencing the squeeze on hospitals first-hand.

”It’s just kind of a helpless feeling when they say, we would like to admit you but there’s no room. If you were admitted, we would give you this treatment, but there’s no bed for you,” said Holly Metz of Minot.

Holly and her son, Elliot, moved in with Holly’s mom, Bonnie, in Minot at the start of the pandemic to protect her from getting COVID at an assisted living home. The plan worked until very recently when members of the family tested positive for the virus.

”When she finally tested positive, the emergency room was overfull. They brought her back after a long wait and basically assessed her in the hallway because the rooms were so full. And then they took her back to the waiting room and we waited for over two hours there before they actually had an emergency room bed for the doctor to assess her,” said Holly.

Holly was hoping they would administer either monoclonal antibodies or anti-viral pills shown to be effective against COVID after infection.

”They weren’t able to give her the treatment because it’s only provided to patients who are admitted to the hospital, and they had no beds available for her,” she said.

Holly was also told the hospital had run out of the treatments they would’ve used to treat her. Doctors around North Dakota say the pressure at hospitals wouldn’t be as extreme if more people were vaccinated.

”So, even if you do get a breakthrough infection – that’s actually a very rare event – but if you are vaccinated and you happen to land in a hospital, your length of stay in North Dakota with recent data is going to be about 5.4 days, compared to an unvaccinated person who lands in the hospital has about, on average, a 13.5-day length of stay in the hospital. So, vaccination, even if you do get sick, and even if you land in the hospital, tends to help you fare better from that hospital course,” said Dr. Paul Carson, infectious disease physician and practicing professor at NDSU.

As Bonnie rests at home, there is one thing Holly is grateful for.

“She’s vaccinated and boosted. That is what’s going to save my mother in this situation,” said Holly.

According to the Department of Health, 55% of North Dakotans have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

The Department of Health reports Trinity Health in Minot and Sanford Health in Bismarck have no available ICU or regular inpatient beds as of Tuesday 1/18. CHI St. Alexius in Bismarck, however, has six available ICU and inpatient beds.

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