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State partners with skilled-nursing facility to offer hospitals overwhelmed by COVID relief

Benedictine St. Gertrude's in Shakopee will accept up to 30 patients who need transitional care, opening beds to treat more COVID patients.

SHAKOPEE, Minn. — A skilled nursing facility in the south metro is the first to partner with the state of Minnesota in an effort to take pressure pressure off hospitals that are overburdened with the spike in COVID-19 patients that need care. 

The Walz administration announced Tuesday that Benedictine St. Gertrude's in Shakopee will accept up to 30 patients from metro hospitals that have progressed to the point they are ready for transitional care but are not yet able to go home. That, in turn, will open up hospital beds that are desperately needed to treat new patients suffering severe COVID symptoms, and others who need primary and emergency care. 

“This is an all-hands-on-deck moment for our hospitals. We are answering the call from Minnesota’s doctors and nurses, who are asking for support and relief as they treat critically ill COVID-19 patients,” said Walz in a released statement explaining the new partnership. “Our action plan is aimed at easing the burden on Minnesota hospitals, providing more capacity for Minnesotans who are sick with COVID-19, and ensuring all patients are receiving the care that is right for them."

Walz explained that eight nurses and four certified nursing assistants at Benedictine St. Gertrude's will serve as the facility's COVID-19 Emergency Staffing Pool, which he expanded in mid-October as part of an action plan to increase hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients. Activated Minnesota National Guard personnel will serve as temporary nursing assistants, if some are needed. 

“At the heart of Benedictine’s Mission is serving those in need and this opportunity is a unique way to fulfill our Mission,” explained Benedictine President and CEO Jerry Carley. “With the staffing support from the National Guard and the COVID-19 emergency staffing pool, Benedictine St. Gertrude’s is able to use its available capacity to serve this need.”

State facilities are also being utilized to create transitional care bed space: The Department of Human Services (DHS) says admissions to state-run facilities have increased 17% over the last three weeks, taking a bit of pressure off overburdened hospitals. 

Walz has been searching for solutions to the hospital and health care system crisis as both cases and hospitalizations have multiplied due to the highly-transmittable delta variant. On Oct. 15 he toured North Memorial Medical Center and held a press conference with top health care executives, who spoke emotionally of the toll the uptick in COVID hospitalizations is taking on frontline medical staff, who are working extra days and hours to keep up with the flood of patients.  

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