Hospitals impacted by COVID-19 as testing remains limited

Ryan Juntti
Updated: March 31, 2020 12:07 AM

The lack of testing for COVID-19 has been an issue across the country, and is also hurting hospitals in the Northland. 


St. Luke's Hospital CEO Kevin Nokels says their volume of patients are down more than 50 percent, and that they are also still very limited with their ability to test for COVID-19.

Nokels adds they are working to add more ICU beds as they anticipate the number of patients who need them growing.

"Our focus today is on preparing to care for our community during this pandemic, from collaborating with others, to acquiring supplies, equipment and testing, to expanding our physical capacity using existing space and preparing our employees for the surge in patients," Nokels wrote in an emailed statement to WDIO News.

In response to President Trump's signing of the $2.2 trillion economic rescue package, Nokels said, "There are many details that have yet to be shared as to the allocation/distribution of the Federal and State funds, and we look forward to working with our elected officials to secure needed funds during this time.”

Essentia Health CEO David Herman says their ability to test for COVID-19 is restricted by the Minnesota Department of Health's limited testing criteria.

"We're making policy changes on a daily basis and hoping on an hourly basis that the ability to test changes," Herman said. 

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar says she understands the financial challenges that hospitals across the state have dealt with. She says figuring out testing could be key to a healthy economy.

"We're never going to see our economy bounce back to where we want if we don't diagnose the problem, and get the help to the people that need it," Klobuchar said.

The Minnesota Department of Health says hospitals such as St. Luke's and Essentia are required to report their tests to them. Depending on where the test results are first sent to be processed can slow down when the health department gets them. 

Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Sunday that the amount of positive test results they have received from hospitals around the state should be up to date.


Ryan Juntti

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