After Sunday's full page newspaper ad from healthcare systems expressed the dire situation in Minnesota hospitals, the rallying cry to get more Minnesotans vaccinated to combat the coronavirus continues with healthcare leaders trying to paint the grim picture seen in emergency rooms and intensive care units on a daily basis.
Jennifer DeCubellis, CEO of Hennepin Healthcare, said Monday on WCCO-AM that there were more than 200 people waiting in emergency rooms around the state because there aren't enough beds and staff to provide the level of care they need.
"Today we literally had, on our statewide report, zero ICU beds available. Not only no ICU beds available but over 200 individuals that need a higher level of care are boarding in our emergency departments," DeCubellis said. "And that means we're delaying the acute response that individuals need. We're trying to get Minnesota's attention to say this is dire, we need everybody's help and it will take all of us doing our part right now."
The situation is grim despite the Department of Defense and other federal organizations sending medical teams to assist at Minnesota hospitals, including Hennepin Healthcare, St. Cloud Hospital and M Health Fairview Southdale Hospital.
"Bringing in those resources isn't going to solve it. It's going to help us hold on a little bit longer," said DeCubellis.
Dr. David Hilden, the vice president of medical affairs at Hennepin Healthcare, also joined WCCO-AM on Monday and said, "We're not doing business as usual in our healthcare systems," adding that the situation is "preventable" if people get vaccinated, get their COVID-19 booster dose when eligible and wear a mask in public.
Approximately 62% of Minnesota's population is fully vaccinated and more than 1.3 million Minnesotans have received a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. And while breakthrough cases are possible, the vast majority of people who wind up hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. The vaccine has proved to be very effective at preventing severe illness and death.
"It's very uncommon for vaccinated people to be deathly ill with COVID," said Hilden. "The vast majority of COVID patients in the ICU are unvaccinated. They're younger as well. We're seeing younger people, not older adults. Adults in their 30s 40s, 50s on life support systems with COVID. They're almost all unvaccinated."
Hilden's message was echoed by HealthPartners CEO Andrea Walsh, who told WCCO-AM that they've experienced "an incredible increase in the number of 30- to 50-year-olds who are hospitalized and end up on ventilators because of COVID-19."
The latest hospital data from the Minnesota Department of Health, which is not provided at a real-time level like hospitals can see, reveals that there were 21 adult ICU beds available statewide as of Dec. 13, while 54 of 68 hospitals that can treat adults in an ICU are completely filled and have no capacity.
There is only one adult ICU bed available in the entire Twin Cities metro region, according to state data.
Overall, there are 1,636 people with COVID-19 hospitalized in Minnesota as of Dec. 13, including 352 patients in intensive care.