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A plea for help from North Dakota nursing homes in the COVID-19 crisis

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COVID-19 has stretched North Dakota nursing home staff thin in all corners of the state.

Nurses are needed. CNA’s are needed. Cooks are needed — So much so there is now a public plea for your help.

“The good people we have, that we’ve had throughout this pandemic, they need a break too,” said Reier Thompson, President and CEO of Missouri Slope.

The inevitable has happened: More and more workers are testing positive. Those who remain, those who are apparently COVID-free right now and still standing, are exhausted.

“They haven’t been able to take a weekend off hardly or a night off at all departments all levels of the organization so we really do, we could use extra hands on deck in most departments,” said Thompson.

Staff shortages run deep.

With every COVID testing day, Thompson says two or three employees are sent home to quarantine.

Those employees who aren’t positive may have been in close contact with those temporarily out of the picture. Others simply have symptoms.

But both Thompson and Shelly Peterson, President of the North Dakota Longer Term Care Association, want to be absolutely clear on one important point: You’re loved ones are still getting the quality care they need and deserve.

But this week, a public plea for help has been issued.

“We’re in a healthcare crisis regarding staffing. We don’t have sufficient staff to fill shifts,” said Peterson. “So what we’re asking and hoping is that there are people in the community that could help us, that could respond. We need the cavalry to come in and help us.”

The problem and need extend to all long-term care facilities in the state.

Marion Manor Healthcare in Glen Ullin is a facility that has been hit especially hard. In fact, one week ago, they were down 20 CNA’s.

“We had 30 percent of our staff in quarantine. W had supervisors fill shifts, we also had openings in dietary,” said Marion Manor Healthcare Administrator Sandy Gerving.

And, while nurses and CNA’s are badly needed, whatever qualification you have will work just fine.

“Housekeeping, maintenance, dietary, activity aides. We need all positions,” said Peterson.

Reier Thompson echoes the plea.

“Reach out to your local assisted living facility and just see where they could use help,” he implored. “We could even use more people sewing masks. We need masks and utilize them every day throughout our organization.”

Peterson says to help, call 355-6823. You can also go to the Job Service North Dakota website.

Peterson says to become a CNA, a new eight-hour course has been established to help during this “crunch time.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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