M Health Fairview expanding COVID care, nonessential surgeries could soon follow

M Health Fairview expanding COVID care, nonessential surgeries could soon follow

M Health Fairview’s Chief Medical Officer says the stay at home order has provided the time needed to build capacity.

MINNEAPOLIS — A month after M Health Fairview started consolidating care for all its COVID-19 patients at Bethesda Hospital, the specialized facility is now two-thirds full. 

“The days kind of run together because it just goes by so fast,” said Emily Allen, an ICU nurse at Bethesda. “We get more and more every day.” 

But Allen and her co-workers have managed to remain hopeful and healthy through the process.

“I just had an antibody test done the other week at work,” Allen said. “I just found out today that I do not have the antibody so that means I have not been exposed to COVID-19 as of yet.”

“The good news is none of our faculty or providers and Bethesda have caught COVID-related illness from their patients,” said Dr. Greg Beilman, M Health Fairview Chief Medical Officer. “That tells you of the success of the work that we’re doing.”

With that in mind, Dr. Beilman says plans are now underway to expand on the patient cohorting strategy. After Bethesda reaches capacity, patients will be taken to a new specialty unit being created at nearby St. Joseph’s Hospital. If that unit fills, another unit will open at M Health Fairview Southdale.

Both hospitals will continue caring for non-COVID patients, but Dr. Beilman says the specialty units will operate separately to keep the public and staff members safe.  

“Our goal is to continue to separate those patients who do not have COVID but need to receive care at St. Joe’s or Southdale, and make sure that they are just as safe as a patient would be anywhere in the country,” Dr. Beilman said. “They will have separate entrances to allow us to screen patients and screen staff separately.” 

Beilman credits state leaders for implementing and emphasizing the need for a stay at home order so they could gain the time they needed to add the specialized care.

“I want to strongly compliment Governor Walz and Commissioner Malcolm for their work that they’ve done in having this surge be much flatter than the states surrounding us and places like New York City,” Beilman said. 

And now that they have built that capacity, Dr. Beilman believes the healthcare system will also soon be able to handle addressing a backlog of nonessential surgeries, providing the state allows it to happen.

Dr. Beilman: “We have people who had their surgeries postponed a month or six weeks ago, people with cancer and other conditions that are time sensitive. We’re really hoping over the next month or so to have that work take off again.”

Kent Erdahl: “Do you believe you could take on that added load, even with PPE supply concerns and those other considerations?”

Allen says she has concerns about having the supplies they need to handle even more waves of cases, but says she knows how important it is to get more people the care they need.

“I think that if we can’t pull it off, we’re going to find that out very quickly,” Allen said. “Everyone needs to be cautious. Just continue to be careful. I like to think Minnesota is a very smart state full of very smart people so I’m very hopeful with that as well.”

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KARE 11’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit kare11.com/coronavirus for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about the Midwest specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and see what companies in Minnesota are hiring. Have a question? Text it to us at 763-797-7215. And get the latest coronavirus updates sent right to your inbox every morning. Subscribe to the KARE 11 Sunrise newsletter here. Help local families in need: www.kare11.com/give11

The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

There is also a data portal online at mn.gov/covid19.

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