Of 1,854 staffed hospital beds in North Dakota, only 16 ICU beds and 186 inpatient beds are available in the entire state as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to rage in the region, according to InForum.
The state has seen a huge surge of positive cases in recent days, with 116 deaths in September and 67 so far in October. Experts suggest that if the rate continues, 475 could be dead by November 1. While that number falls well below some of the more populous states, North Dakota has one of the nation’s highest per-capita infection rates.
Despite this, residents of the state are not required to wear masks, and businesses and schools are open.
Tim Blasl, the president of the North Dakota Hospital Association, weighed in on the situation.
“There’s no doubt about it, we’re near capacity,” he said.
Of the three hospitals in Fargo, the state’s largest city, there are just five ICU beds for patients and there are no inpatient beds at all. In Bismarck, there is one ICU bed and four inpatient beds.
Dr. Jeffrey Sather, chief of medical staff at Trinity Medical Center and his Vice President Randy Schwan confirmed the lack of capacity for those stricken by COVID-19.
While the influx and discharge of patients can change things as the days progress, “we are lately more often near or at capacity based on the level of available staffing,” they noted in a statement.
It doesn’t appear that anything will be changing in the near future, experts said.
“Models projecting the pandemic’s trajectory show no signs that infections will taper, at least in the coming weeks — and health system administrators interviewed by The Forum couldn’t point to any concrete signs that anything will change soon,” the outlet noted.
Dr. Doug Griffin, chief medical officer and vice president at Sanford Fargo, confirmed the prediction.
“Unfortunately, what I’ve been seeing is we expect to continue. It’s a similar level as we are on for the next few weeks. That doesn’t mean things can’t change,” he explained.
This means that for those living in North Dakota who need hospitalization, regardless of the cause, they will be facing longer waits than normal and some people may be transferred between facilities. Others may find themselves in an atypical bedding situation, which could involve having beds placed in the hallways.
Hospitals are working to hire traveling nurses, and health care providers have been asked to work overtime when possible to help deal with the situation.
The news comes as a report emerged confirming that the coronavirus is nothing like the seasonal flu, despite claims by some to the contrary.