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Patients experiencing extended illness from COVID-19 heighten hospital strain

When patients graduate from the ventilator and critical care, they aren't going home right away, creating even more staffing problems on an already stressed system.

FARGO — As of Wednesday, Sept. 22, there are 35 patients in Sanford Health's COVID-19 unit in downtown Fargo. Ten are in the ICU, and eight of those patients are on ventilators.

While the unit seems much more calm compared to one year ago, one issue is becoming very clear: COVID-19 patients who are sick are staying hospitalized longer.

At Sanford, there are 25 additional patients recovering from the illness on the COVID-19 floor, still too sick to go home.

"We have those additional 25 patients still recovering but no longer needing isolation, so that is a burden of 60 people we are caring for," said Sanford Health VP Medical Officer Dr. Doug Griffin.

Sanford also announced it is adding 32 more beds to the Fargo location off Veteran's Boulevard. Those beds will not be available until February 2022.


Other hospitals in the area are dealing with more COVID-19 patients. Essentia Fargo has 20 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Seven patients are in the ICU. Altru in Grand Forks has 12 COVID-19 patients with four in critical care.

The one common factor is nearly all COVID-19 patients in the ICU or on a ventilator are unvaccinated.

"Please, please get vaccinated," Griffin said. "I understand people believe they have a right, (to not get vaccinated), but you don't have the right to endanger others with illness, so we all need to do our part for the health of our communities."

One local family mourning the loss of a loved one to COVID-19 just days ago hesitated to talk. The family is so split on vaccinations it has created a rift during a time of loss.

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

Contact Email: kwallevand@wday.com
Phone Number: (701) 241-5317
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