COVID-19 Wave Overwhelms Rural Hospitals Short on ICU Beds

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – The case of a rural Minnesota man who waited two days for a bed in the intensive care unit and later died is among several examples that have frustrated officials at rural hospitals whose facilities are overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients are.

Bob Cameron, 87, spent two days at his home hospital in Hallock, Minnesota, where nurses continuously searched for space in a larger hospital that could find and fix the source of his severe gastrointestinal bleeding and treat his COVID-19.

The bleeding depleted the hospital’s blood supply, so state troopers brought new units 130 miles from Fargo, North Dakota to Hallock to keep Cameron alive. A bed was secured at Sanford Health in Fargo on October 12, but his condition worsened after surgery to find the source of his bleeding. He died on October 13, the Star Tribune reported.

“Of course, we can’t say for sure that if he had been admitted to intensive care earlier, he would have survived, but we just feel in our hearts that he would,” said Cameron’s granddaughter Janna Curry.

During a three-week period this month, rural hospitals cared for more COVID-19 patients than Twin Cities hospitals.

“We play back and forth between Aitkin, Crosby, Brainerd and Princeton,” said Dr. Arden Virnig, director of a five-bed emergency room at the Mille Lacs Health System in Onamia, Minnesota. “Basically we talk to each other on the phone all day and ask: ‘Who has a new bed open?’ ”

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