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Sanford Health Preps for COVID-19

KARE 11's Bryan Piatt talks to his dad about how he's preparing to handle COVID-19 as a doctor.

PELICAN RAPIDS, Minn. — It's been a steady stream of meetings and phone calls for Dr. Bruce Piatt over the last week.

"This is a unique experience in medicine," he says. 

Dr. Piatt is an Orthopedic Surgeon at Sanford Health in Fargo where he's also the Department Chair of Orthopedics. He's also the dad of KARE 11's Bryan Piatt. Bryan sat down and interviewed him while his family is social distancing in the Pelican Rapids area.

Bryan: "Describe to us that process right now of what you guys are going through to make sure that orthopedic surgeons are able to help if needed. It sounds like there's a lot of conversations like that happening." 

Dr. Piatt: "Even though I'm an orthopedic surgeon and probably nobody wants me managing their ventilators if they get to that point, I'm still a physician. I've got a lot of training and background that I can assist my colleagues. We're all prepared, we all know that there will be things we can contribute, maybe not in a lead role – but more in a servant role to help out wherever we're needed in the healthcare system." 

Sanford Health serves four major regions - Fargo, Bismarck, Sioux Falls and Bemidji.

As of Wednesday, Sanford is treating some patients with COVID-19 on an outpatient basis, but don't currently have anyone hospitalized. 

They know that will likely change. 

"This virus is not selective of where it infects. It's going to be everywhere - it's just a matter of time before it gets there," Dr. Piatt says. "We feel we have an advantage that we've been able to watch it come in from the coasts."

Dr. Piatt says the biggest concerns right now are having enough hospital beds to handle sick patients, making sure they have resources like ventilators and keeping the virus from spreading within their hospitals. "Then we lose healthcare workers. I can guarantee you if that happens our system breaks down. We can't have that happen," Dr. Piatt says.

Bryan: "Have you ever seen anything like this in your career?"

Dr. Piatt: "Never. Never have I seen anything close to this. And I assume that I won't see anything close to this – at least that's my hope in the future."

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