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Local hospitals say allowing workers who test positive for COVID-19 to continue working in COVID units could help

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As COVID-19 cases rise across the state, so do hospitalizations and the need for medical staff.

We’ve learned local hospitals plan to move forward with the new order that allows asymptomatic healthcare workers to continue working with COVID-19 patients.

Hospitals across the state are currently at or near capacity and healthcare workers are stretched thin.

“As the positivity rate in the community goes up we expect a positivity rate in our employees go up. Just like all businesses,” said Michael LeBeau, Sanford Health Bismarck’s President and CEO.

Both CHI St. Alexius and Sanford Health in Bismarck have felt the effects of having staff sidelined after testing positive for COVID-19.

“One of the things we’re doing to optimize their staff availability is really to expand our staffing capability, utilizing short term staff options. Travel nurses, among other things. We also built a surge plan, to help build. How do we utilize staff that are currently working in maybe other areas,” explained Raumi Kurdna, CHI St. Alexius Vice President of Patient Care Services.

“Daily sick calls. How do you cover those? How do you keep a set number of staff to fully be able to care for your hospital?” explained LeBeau.

Gov. Doug Burgum gave a possible answer to that question Monday. The state amended a previous order that will allow healthcare workers who test positive for coronavirus to work through the pandemic in the COVID units.

Since that announcement, local hospitals have begun planning how they would be able to implement this in their daily operations.

“It’s another tool for our tool kit. There’s a number of workflows that we currently have in place that we utilize to make sure that we’re optimizing the staff availability,” said Kurdna.

“There’s a lot of I think details that we work through, but it’s at least an option for hospitals to begin to be able to be able to add in as we look at surge planning,” explained LeBeau.

Healthcare facilities are now coming together for daily meeting with state officials to address issues they are facing on a daily basis surrounding the on going pandemic.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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