Story at a glance
- A group of doctors from Minnesota’s largest health care systems took out an ad in a local paper to urge residents to get vaccinated.
- Currently about 80 percent of Minnesota residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
- Minnesota doctors say their hospitals are operating at capacity and their ability to provide health care to non-COVID-19 related illnesses has been affected.
A group of Minnesota doctors took out an ad in a local newspaper to plead with residents to get vaccinated as health care workers become demoralized.
A full-page ad in the Minnesota Star Tribune reads, “we’re heartbroken. We’re overwhelmed.” It goes on to say how Minnesota emergency departments are “overfilled” and how the pandemic “has strained our operations and demoralized many people on our teams.”
The takeaway from the ad is to get vaccinated, with doctors asking readers to not only get vaccinated, but get a booster shot, wear a mask, socially distance themselves from others, get tested for COVID-19 and encourage neighbors and loved ones to also get vaccinated.
The ad also warns Minnesota residents that hospitals may struggle to provide health care for things like heart attacks, car accidents, cancer and strokes.
According to Minnesota’s COVID-19 dashboard, the state’s hospital capacity is in a danger zone. There are 54 hospitals reporting zero adult ICU beds available, hitting almost 80 percent ICU capacity. The state estimates it has about 1,012 adult ICU beds and 991 are currently in use. Adult non-ICU beds are also in a dire state, with 6,962 in use out of the state’s total of 7,327 capacity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has Minnesota in the high category of community transmission, one of the largest current hotspots in the country. Over the last seven days, Minnesota has reported 529 positive cases of COVID-19. The state also confirmed it had identified its first case involving the omicron variant on Dec. 2.
Minnesota Hospital Association president and CEO Rahul Koranne told CNN that, “the care capacity in Minnesota is severely limited due to a worsening health care workforce crisis. There were thousands of open health care jobs before the pandemic, and this situation has escalated into a true workforce crisis due to resignations, retirements, burnout, and challenges with temporary staffing services.”
Minnesota has vaccinated about 82 percent of its population aged 18 and older with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, which is higher than the national average. The CDC says 72 percent of the U.S. has received at least one dose.
Gianrico Farrugia, president and CEO of Mayo Clinic and a co-signer of Minnesota’s newspaper ad, also wrote an op-ed in the Star Tribune on Dec. 6 where he argued health care workers have continuously been fighting the coronavirus pandemic and that the rest of the community needs to step up.
“We still have more than a quarter of eligible people who are unvaccinated in Minnesota. It will take more than health care workers’ efforts to close that gap,” said Farrugia.
READ MORE STORIES FROM CHANGING AMERICA