Minnesota health care leaders address ‘capacity crisis’ with pediatric hospital beds across the state

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Minnesota health care leaders say they’re in a "capacity crisis" when it comes to available pediatric hospital beds across the state.

With kids being hospitalized for a number of illnesses, including COVID-19, front-line workers are working hard to handle the tight capacity in our hospitals.

"In fact, I think it’s probably the most challenging year I’ve experienced in my 30 plus years in health care," said Dr. Kevin Croston, CEO of North Memorial Health.

Eighteen months later, COVID-19 cases in Minnesota are on the rise again.

"COVID cases are going up and they’ve been going up steadily for quite some time now," Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said.

On Thursday, health officials discussed the latest impact on kids, saying they’re seeing 3,000 COVID cases a week in children under 12.

"This represents a new a troubling high mark for the entire pandemic," Malcolm said.

"Children are by no means spared," said Dr. Marc Gorelick, the president and CEO of Children’s Minnesota.

The amount of available hospital beds for children is a great concern for many health officials. With Coronavirus cases one of the contributing illnesses, the Minnesota Department of Health announced there are currently a total of 7 pediatric beds open in the Metro, 2 in Southeast Minnesota, one in Northwest Minnesota, one in south-central Minnesota, and none in the central part of the state.

"In the past few months we have seen dramatic increases in visits to all parts of our healthcare system," Gorelick said.

For those on the front lines, it can feel like a seemingly never-ending cycle.

"Now, there are actually fewer health care workers on the job today than there were last year due to the extreme stress and burnout they’ve faced for over 18 months," Malcolm said.

But health care leaders are doing everything they can to encourage their staff, even providing incentives for working longer hours.

"Our health care workforce are true heroes and they have been running this race for more than 18 months," said Rachelle H. Schultz, Ed.D., president and CEO of Winona Health.

While no one can predict a potential surge in COVID cases or hospital visits, experts agree they’re better equipped a year and a half into this pandemic.

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