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Avera Medical Minute: Director of critical care at Avera McKennan describes ICU surge capacity and hope of future vaccine

Our sister hospitals are doing a wonderful job of keeping patients, away from Avera Mckennan,...
Our sister hospitals are doing a wonderful job of keeping patients, away from Avera Mckennan, and doing their best to offload the tertiary care center that we are, and they are doing that with the best-qualified people that they have.(Dakota news now)
Published: Nov. 12, 2020 at 4:25 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Avera McKennan Hospital ICU units are operating within a surge capacity, which affecting other patient transfers from other facilities.

Medical Minute reporter Beth Warden spoke with Dr. Anthony Hericks, Director of Critical Care at Avera McKennan to answer our questions.

Q: With the growing number of COVID patients, can you describe what the scenario is in the ICU?

A: They’re just, they’re busier than they were before. We have a 28 that ICU that we just opened up recently, and we’re using every single one of those beds to house critically ill patients. We’ve also had to, at times, double up patients in single bedrooms, in order to make room for extra people as well. So you can see that the level of capacity that we have is, in what we call surge capacity because we’re doing things that we typically don’t do.

Q: What about COVID patients and some of the smaller towns?

A: In a normal world and a normal time, a lot of the patients that are being kept in the Mitchell and Yankton and Aberdeen sites would potentially be transferred to Avera McKennon for the level of ICU care. We’re actually having to staff them with nurses that may or may not have the level of critical care training that the nurses at Avera McKennan have. Our sister hospitals are doing a wonderful job of keeping patients, away from Avera McKennan, and doing their best to offload the tertiary care center that we are, and they are doing that with the best-qualified people that they have. But the level of critical care that we’re providing here is, is pretty high right now so I know they’re pretty stretched and pretty stressed out there.

Q: What is it like when you spend your shift in the ICU watching people struggle and then you go to the streets of Sioux Falls and you see people not taking precautions?

A: I think it’s stressful for us all. And you might be one of the lucky people that maybe get sick for a few days or maybe you didn’t have any symptoms, where you could be one of those people that has had the worst day or week they have ever had in their life. And what people don’t necessarily realize is not only are you probably having the worst day of your life, you’re doing that alone.

Q: What’s the plan for when a vaccine is available?

A: I think every state is going to get a level of vaccine that is provided to them, and they’re going to have to choose how to give that to maybe the most susceptible people. And then as more vaccine becomes available. Then get it out and out to the greater population to see if we can get some, some immunity out there to prevent the spread of this from going any further.

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