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Hennepin Healthcare preparing to see more Coronavirus cases

The health system is working to add more isolation rooms and is planning to add more testing capabilities to help state health department handle the load.

While the outside world is quickly shutting down with many sports arenas, businesses and schools sitting empty, Hennepin Healthcare is preparing to see more patients than they can handle.

"There's not a lot of room to accommodate a pandemic. We will do the best we can," emergency physician Dr. John Hick says.

Right now, Hick says most hospitals in the Twin Cities have about a 5% vacancy.

He can’t speak for other hospitals and clinics, but he says at Hennepin Healthcare they’re working to add more “isolation rooms” in case they see a big uptick in Coronavirus cases.

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The health system is also looking at creating an entirely separate unit for Coronavirus patients so doctors can keep these patients away from everyone else, but Hick says they can only do so much.

"Honestly, in Italy and China, in a lot of cases because of how overwhelmed those hospitals were, they were getting the same treatments they would have gotten in the 1950's. We don't want to get there," Hick says.

That's why he and his colleagues say cancelling large events and other big gatherings is so important.

They say think about the spread like a forest fire.

A few sparks don't seem like a big deal, if you keep them away from other trees, and you put them out quickly.

But if you do nothing, they say pretty soon the whole forest is on fire and there's not enough water to put it out.

"That's why it's so important we take the community measures and when people are sick, people are self-isolating to protect us from getting to the point where our health care resources are overwhelmed."

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Besides adding rooms, Hennepin Healthcare is also looking at restricting travel for doctors and limiting in-person meetings to six people or less.

They're also ramping up their testing capabilities so they can help the state health department test more patients quickly.

"Make no mistake, we don't want you to panic, because the vast majority of these cases are mild, but worry enough to take precautions and take care of yourselves and take care of your family members."

Our coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit our coronavirus section for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about the Midwest specifically, and keep tabs on the cases around the world here. Have a question? Text it to us at 763-797-7215.

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