FARGO — As flu season begins to set in with fall and COVID-19 cases continue to rise, healthcare workers at Sanford Health are urging people to get vaccinated against both diseases. Sanford's Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Doug Griffin hopes both messages about both vaccines get lost in one another.
"We're anticipating that that we will need staff for high census all the way through the winter months," said Griffin.
As of Tuesday, Sept. 28, at least 24 people were being held outside the main hospital in Fargo due to a lack of space. Overflow beds have been set up in the emergency department and in a recovery unit.
"We are constructing a few more beds," said Griffin. "But right now it's more about staff."
That staff includes nearly 170 travel nurses starting this week and 30 more could arrive soon. Griffin explains many of the new worker will staff the intenstive care unit where the need of additional manpower is most critical.
"To be honest, if we had 200 nurses walk in and wanted to work for us today, we could take them," he said.
According to Griffin, staff fatigue is setting in even outside the hospital doors. At the same time, ambulance services are bringing in as many vehicles and staff as they can.
"We're basically stretching ambulance service, as you know, as much as they're very busy, ERs are very busy," he said.
Griffin added that the most important thing to help the strain on hospitals heading into flu season is to get vaccinated.
To get a flu vaccine, you can schedule an appointment with Sanford, or visit a local pharmacy.