A rising tide of COVID-19 cases is creating a strain at healthcare facilities across North Dakota, including Trinity Health. Trinity officials say the latest wave of community transmission is impacting patients, residents, and staff at both acute- and long-term care facilities.
At Trinity Homes, a new round of testing was initiated after a handful of positive cases were confirmed among residents and staff. “The testing is in accordance with North Dakota Department of Health (DOH) protocols, which require that outbreak testing be conducted if even a single positive is confirmed,” said Jessica Edgell, Director of Nursing at Trinity Homes. “We’re in compliance with all DOH protocols and have been doing everything necessary to keep the virus at bay. The recent cases are due to the current wave of community spread.”
The latest outbreak, though fairly small, has prompted Trinity Homes to return to a locked front entrance, which had been open in recent weeks. Scheduled visits are still allowed on a limited, case-by-case basis. Edgell also noted that COVID booster shots are being administered to fortify the facility’s resilience.
At Trinity Hospital, a moderate surge has been met with equal vigilance, according to Vice President Randy Schwan. He says the hospital has experienced a steady increase in COVID-19 cases each week for the last two months, with no signs of a plateau. Although admissions vary from day to day, the hospital’s med-surg, intensive care, and emergency beds have been at or near capacity on most days, primarily due to younger patients contracting COVID, combined with typical medical emergencies.
“It is not unusual to have patients come into the hospital through the Emergency Department and have to wait in that space until there is a bed available on the floors,” Schwan said. “And because all hospitals in North Dakota are experiencing this same scenario every day, we are not typically able to transfer these patients to another hospital.”
This past month, visitor restrictions at Trinity Hospital, Trinity Hospital – St. Joseph’s, and Kenmare Community Hospital were raised from “minimal” to “moderate,” with just one asymptomatic adult visitor allowed per day at a patient’s bedside or to accompany a patient to an outpatient procedure. The restrictions could be strengthened yet again, based on metrics that are being monitored daily.
“Our teams have been monitoring the trajectory of new infections with an eye toward reinforcing our mitigation efforts,” Schwan said. “As we experience another wave in western North Dakota, it’s up to all of us to double down on vaccinations and other measures. The more we can bump up our vaccination rates the less impact the virus will have on our communities.”
Trinity Health is accepting appointments, based on eligibility, for first, second, and third doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and for the quadrivalent flu vaccine. Appointments are available by calling Trinity Health’s Vaccination Line at 701-857-2515.