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Emergency medical teams arrive to help weary workers

The Walz administration says more than 100 nurses will reach Minnesota this week for deployment in hospitals across the state as COVID taxes front line workers.

ST PAUL, Minn. — More than 100 nurses begin arriving in Minnesota this week to help short-staffed hospitals trying to cope with the overwhelming impacts of COVID and the omicron variant. 

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) secured the staffing support and will direct the nursing teams to hospitals identified by providers as most in need of help. The nurses will work up to 60 hours per week for 60 days to provide care for patients, and will be paid from a pool of $40 million in American Rescue Plan funding.

The first wave of nursing teams will start work at 23 hospitals this week. Another influx of 100 nurses will arrive in Minnesota in the days ahead to support even more healthcare facilities.

RELATED: Hospitals welcome Walz staffing plan

“Our health care workers have provided superb care to sick Minnesotans throughout this pandemic. But now, the omicron variant is causing cases to surge, in some cases sidelining our medical personnel,” said Governor Walz. “At this critical moment, when our doctors and nurses are asking for our help, we are providing it. More than 100 nurses will provide urgent care and relieve overworked staff at Minnesota hospitals right away, with more help on the way."

Hospitals across the state are reporting high levels of staff absences due to COVID-19 infections and exposures, while they struggle to care for a rising number of COVID patients. As of Monday MDH says more than 1,600 people are hospitalized with the virus, nearly 80 more patients than at this time last week. Nearly 250 of those people have symptoms serious enough to require ICU treatment.

Here are some of the health providers that will receive staffing help. 

  • Winona Health
  • Lake Region Healthcare
  • Alomere Health
  • Sanford Bemidji Medical Center
  • Carris Health - Willmar
  • Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center
  • Sanford Worthington Medical Center
  • Mayo Clinic Health System - Mankato
  • Essentia Health - St Mary's Medical Center
  • CentraCare Monticello
  • M Health Fairview Lakes Medical Center - Wyoming
  • M Health Fairview Northland Medical Center - Princeton
  • M Health Fairview Southdale Hospital
  • Allina Health Clinic - Buffalo
  • Allina Health - Cambridge Medical Center
  • CentraCare Melrose
  • Mercy Hospital
  • Abbott Northwestern Hospital
  • Regions Hospital
  • North Memorial Hospital
  • HCMC
  • M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Medical Center
  • United Hospital

To lessen the load on health care workers, state health officials are urging all Minnesotans to do their part to stop spreading the omicron virus. Here are some things they say everyone can do: 

  • Get Vaccinated. Minnesotans age 5 and up can be vaccinated. The vaccine can help keep you out of the hospital if you get sick, and that will make life a little easier on doctors, nurses, and care providers.  
  • Get Boosted. All Minnesotans 12 and older can get a booster when they are due (five months after receiving Pfizer or Moderna, and two months after receiving Johnson & Johnson). Researchers believe the omicron variant is more transmissible than previous variants, but say getting fully vaccinated and boosted significantly increases protection against severe illness or death from infection.
  • Get Tested. To avoid spreading the virus, get tested if you feel ill. Take advantage of free testing options the state offers, or head to your local clinic or pharmacy.  
  • Stay Safe. Wear your mask while traveling and in indoor public settings like a grocery store, a shopping mall, or a school. Wash your hands, and do your best to avoid crowded indoor spaces before large gatherings — especially with high-risk people and children under 5 who can’t yet be vaccinated.

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