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Local ICU beds limited

Community Memorial Hospital CEO Rick Breuer confirmed that the Cloquet hospital has been at capacity for much of the past month, but said Covid is not the only cause.

Probably between one-quarter and one-third on the inpatient side of things are Covid patients,” Breuer told the Pine Knot Wednesday. He stressed that people should not be tempted to minimize the impact of Covid, saying they are seeing a lot of patients coming in for many reasons. “If we have to divert and can’t care for more patients, it’s because of the [additional] Covid cases.”

CMH has four ICU beds, but sometimes there is staffing for only two of the ICU beds. Breuer said hospitals across the state have had to “redefine what being full means” since the pandemic, and particularly with current staff shortages. “People kept their heads down and got through the bad wave last winter, but a lot of the older workforce then retired early. I don’t know anyone that’s at full staffing.” CMH is doing better than many, but they’re still short of where they want to be, Breuer said.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported there was one staffed ICU bed available in all of northeastern Minnesota Monday and Tuesday, or 1.1 percent of all regional beds. Over the same time, the number of available staffed pediatric ICU beds went from three to two.

Cumulative Covid-19 cases in Carlton County hit 5,833 as of Wednesday, Dec. 15, with 79 deaths. That was an increase of 138 cases and one death since the previous Wednesday. The increase was down from the previous week, when Carlton County cases jumped by 197 cases and three more deaths since the previous week.

Covid case numbers are dropping around the state, Breuer said, expressing hope that the Delta peak could be over.

“We’ll see how the numbers look after Christmas,” he said.

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