M Health Fairview has announced it will be opening up two more of its hospitals to handle COVID-19 patients ahead of an anticipated surge in Minnesota.
The peak demand for cases and hospital beds in Minnesota is still expected to be weeks or even months away, and the healthcare provider says it's taking steps now to be prepared.
It has announced St. Joseph's Hospital in St. Paul and M Health Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina will become "cohort" facilities for COVID-19 patients.
That's because M Health Fairview's first COVID-19 specialist facility, Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul, is "nearing capacity."
Cohorting refers to keeping patients with the same disease in the same area to limit exposure, centralize staffing resources and PPE, and "scales efficient care procedures."
"As the number of patients increases in the coming weeks, care for COVID-19 patients will be centralized at three main sites across our system: M Health Fairview Bethesda Hospital, then designated cohort units at M Health Fairview St. Joseph’s Hospital, and then, cohort units at M Health Fairview Southdale Hospital," the organization announced on Tuesday.
"These additional locations were selected given their proximity to Bethesda Hospital and established acute care capacity including ICU beds and negative air pressure rooms."
For regular patients at these two hospitals, M Health Fairview says that both will still operate its emergency departments and mental health inpatient services, and will continue to perform lifesaving procedures.
Those with appointments scheduled at either will be contacted about their visit in the near future, and it could also mean some existing patients at both hospitals need to be moved.
"The timing of this transition will depend on the number of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients in need of hospitalization, as well as the level of care they require," a company statement said.
"If a surge plan unit is needed, some existing patients and their care teams may be relocated to a new location within our system where they will continue receiving care and further limiting potential exposure to COVID-19."
Staff looking after COVID-19 patients are given N95 masks, isolation masks, eye protection and gloves, M Health Fairview said.