An inside look at Regions Hospital's battle against COVID-19

Crystal Bui
Updated: December 04, 2020 10:16 PM
Created: December 04, 2020 09:02 PM

Hospitals have very little room.

The latest data from the Minnesota Department of Health shows just 5.5 percent of adult ICU beds still open in the metro area -- that's 38 beds.

Each day across the state, thousands of new people are learning they've tested positive. While a majority of those cases aren't severe, each day dozens of people are still dying.

Doctors at Regions Hospital in St. Paul say many staff have seen more death since the spring than in their entire careers.

"You'll see staff who are tired, and stressed, and looking for an end in sight," said Heather Gleason, Regions Hospital Director of Clinical Operations.

"What we're seeing every day and what we're facing, unprecedented isn't even the right word anymore … at the end of the day, there are more sick people coming in than we can keep up with," she continues.

Full KSTP COVID-19 coverage

Up on the 7th floor of the hospital nurses and doctors move with urgency. 

"This doesn't even give a picture of the many, many weeks a patient is on the ventilator," said Dr. Benji Mathews, Regions Hospital chief of hospital medicine. 

"It's all hands on deck," he said. 

There are many doctors who are working extended hours to have "end of life" conversations with families. They have so many COVID-19 patients, they're overflowing into other wings of the hospital. 

"At some point we are seeing so much death, that in this last nine months, this last 260 days, that many of us have seen in our careers," said Mathews. 

Battling the virus is one thing, but the staff at the hospital say, the other battle is getting people to take it seriously. 

5 Eyewitness News asked Gleason how she responds to some of the skepticism. 

"For me, It hurts," she said. "Because at the end of the day, these are people, and why don't people care about people they don't know? Because at the end of the day, this is going to touch everybody. And if it hasn't touched you yet, it will. And hopefully, you'll have the story where you get to say that they made it through it, but that is not everybody's story. And I'm very confident that if people were here next to us, next to these patients, that they would make different decisions."

It's a sincere plea for help from those outside the hospital walls. 

"We'll continue to be here and we'll continue to keep fighting, but we need everybody's help to get there. We won't be able to get there on our own," said Gleason. 

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