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Welcome to the Office of Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan Newsroom. Here you will find our latest press releases, statements, and other information. 

Governor Walz Secures Emergency Federal Medical Teams to Support Minnesota Hospitals

Department of Defense medical team to support staff at HCMC and St. Cloud Hospital

11/17/2021 12:09:43 PM

[ST. PAUL, MN] – Today, Governor Tim Walz announced that the federal government has accepted his urgent request for emergency staffing assistance at Minnesota hospitals and will be sending two Department of Defense medical teams to hospitals to relieve doctors and nurses as they treat COVID-19 and other patients.

The emergency staffing teams, with 22 medical personnel each, will support staff at HCMC in Minneapolis and St. Cloud Hospital. They will arrive next week and begin treating patients immediately.

“Hospitals around the state need urgent support, and my Administration is using every tool at our disposal to help them,” Governor Walz said. “The emergency staffing teams coming to HCMC and St. Cloud Hospital over the next few days will provide an important measure of relief to the healthcare personnel who remain on the frontline of this crisis. Every day, our doctors and nurses are treating Minnesotans sick with COVID-19 or suffering other emergencies. But they are under water, and they need all the help we can give them. I’m grateful the Biden Administration heeded our request and is sending in reinforcements.”

“Our doctors and nurses deserve all the support we can provide them, which is why I’m relieved and thankful these federal medical teams are coming to their aid,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “Everyone has a role to play as we weather this COVID-19 surge. Our frontline heroes are working around the clock to care for those who need it. Our Administration is providing whatever assistance we can. Minnesotans everywhere can help out by getting their COVID-19 vaccine if they are eligible. We are not done with this pandemic. Please do your part.”

“The only way to successfully respond to this historic pandemic is for all of us to work together at the state and federal level,” said Joe Kelly, director of the Homeland Security Emergency Management division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. “Our ongoing partnership with FEMA is ensuring Minnesota receives the federal resources we need now as we work through this latest surge. Thank you to the military members who are coming to help us once again, just like the U.S. Air Force teams that supported the State Fair community vaccination site last spring.”

“Hospital capacity is extremely tight in the metro and in Greater Minnesota, and this high level of activity is taking a tremendous toll on our health care workers,” said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “We are working hard to give them support, but they also need each and every Minnesotan to do their part by reducing the rate at which COVID-19 is spreading. That means getting vaccinated, wearing a mask in public indoor settings, testing as appropriate, and using all the tools we know help limit transmission.”

“Minnesota is known for our partnerships that work successfully to care for our community when times are tough,” said Jennifer DeCubellis, CEO at Hennepin Healthcare. “As the State’s largest Level 1 trauma center for adult and pediatric care, it’s essential that our doors remain open and staffed to meet the needs of our community. We are grateful to the Governor and MDH for their advocacy in bringing in federal support to augment our essential healthcare teams, ensuring we can continue to respond to trauma and health emergencies when Minnesotans need us most.”

“On behalf of our staff and the people in our region who we serve, we are grateful for this support in a time of dire need,” said Dr. Ken Holmen, President and CEO of CentraCare. "We are grateful for these much-needed resources, and we look forward to integrating these professionals with our teams."

“Minnesota's hospitals and health systems appreciate that the state is continuing to take action to address our severely stressed statewide health care system,” said Dr. Rahul Koranne, President and CEO of the Minnesota Hospital Association. “We are hopeful that bringing in Department of Defense care teams, coupled with the opening of new skilled nursing capacity, will provide some relief to our increasing volumes and care capacity issues being felt across the state. Minnesotans should continue to do their part to address this ongoing pandemic as it stresses our system even as our health care heroes continue to do everything humanly possible to provide them care when and where they need it.”

The federal staffing teams come as Minnesota hospitals strain under a dramatic influx of COVID-19 patients, the vast majority of whom are unvaccinated. As of Tuesday, 1,382 Minnesotans are hospitalized for COVID-19, the highest figure this year. Only 47 ICU beds statewide are open to accept Minnesota patients.

Third Alternative Care Site to Open for Non-Emergency Patients

In addition to requesting federal staffing support, Governor Walz has taken decisive action to assist Minnesota hospitals by opening up bed space in Minnesota’s long-term care facilities.

Hospitals report that a number of their patients should instead be treated at long-term care facilities, including those who have recently had surgery and no longer need hospital-level care but cannot yet go home. Due to staffing and bed shortages, hospitals are not able to transfer these patients to long-term care settings.

Governor Walz announced today that a third skilled-nursing facility will make additional beds available on Monday to act an alternative care site to accept and treat certain patients from Twin Cities hospitals.

Cerenity Senior Care-Marian of Saint Paul will be able to accept up to 27 patients as a hospital decompression site. A team of 25 – 10 nurses from federal partners and 15 nursing assistants from the Minnesota National Guard and private vendors – will provide transitional care to patients who are currently hospitalized, allowing hospitals to treat those sick with COVID-19 and others requiring emergency support.

Cerenity Senior Care-Marian will join Good Samaritan Society-Bethany in Brainerd (34 beds) and Benedictine St. Gertrude’s in Shakopee (27 beds) in providing transitional care to patients.

“Cerenity Senior Care-Marian of Saint Paul is another of our Benedictine Communities that is uniquely positioned to assist with Minnesota’s hospital decompression program,” said Benedictine President and CEO Jerry Carley. “Benedictine Communities are called to serve in this critical time where COVID-19 is challenging area hospitals. We are thankful that we can use our available capacity and the staff of the National Guard and COVID-19 emergency staffing pool to fulfill this call.”

Governor Walz has enacted a series of measures to free up space at long-term care facilities for non-critical hospital patients, including:

  • expanding the Emergency Staffing Pool so that short-term emergency temporary staff could be used to open up additional beds for patients ready to be discharged from a hospital;
  • putting the National Guard on notice to provide staffing support at decompression facilities;
  • and directing the Department of Human Services to free up capacity at state-operated long-term care facilities.
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