At Minnesota hospitals, ER 'boarding' a COVID-19 consequence

[Star Tribune, December 06, 2020] The second pandemic wave in Minnesota is putting unprecedented strain on hospital emergency departments, which have seen patients pile up in waiting rooms and treatment bays this fall.

A recent Friday shift seemed light at United Hospital in St. Paul, until 33 ER treatment bays filled — about one-third with patients who had confirmed or probable COVID-19. More ambulances were inbound and 20 patients settled into Plexiglass-protected pods in the waiting room.

“Usually we have one or two days a week that are really busy,” nurse Danielle Wilkerson said during that Nov. 20 shift. “Now, since the surge has started, every day we have a lot of people out in the waiting room and our rooms are always full here. There’s people waiting three to five hours, and that’s a good day.”

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