Governor Walz Announces Brainerd Facility to Serve as Alternative Care Site to Help Relieve Hospital Capacity
[ST. PAUL, MN] – Today, Governor Tim Walz announced a second skilled-nursing facility would act as an alternative care site as part of the governor’s efforts to relieve Minnesota hospitals treating a surge of COVID-19 patients.
An additional emergency staffing team of 14 Minnesota National Guard members and nine federal nurses will treat patients at Good Samaritan Society –Bethany in Brainerd beginning on Wednesday. The site will help relieve hospital capacity in central and northern Minnesota by accepting up to 34 patients from area hospitals.
Patients eligible for transfer include those who no longer require acute emergency care but are not well enough to go home, such as those who are recovering from surgery. Hospitals usually are able to transfer these patients to long-term care settings to continue their recovery, but staffing and bed shortages have reduced long-term care capacity. Governor Walz announced an action plan last month to expand access to long-term care beds so hospitals can focus on treating COVID-19 patients and others requiring emergency care.
“As Minnesota doctors and nurses care for more COVID-19 patients, we’re calling in reinforcements,” said Governor Walz. “Our new alternative care sites will treat Minnesotans on the road to recovery so our hospitals can focus on providing care for our most critical patients, including those sick with COVID-19. We’re forging a coalition to assist our hospitals. By working with our partners at long-term care facilities, the federal government, and the National Guard, we’re helping make sure we have the capacity to care for those who need it.”
“Helping Minnesotans get appropriate medical care is one of our highest priorities during this pandemic,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “We’re providing emergency resources at this critical time, but any Minnesotan can do their part to help. If you haven’t yet, please get vaccinated.”
“We appreciate the opportunity to work with the state of Minnesota and our hospital partners to navigate capacity challenges in order to meet the needs of patients who are in need of care,” said Nate Schema, vice president of operations at the Good Samaritan Society. “The available capacity at Good Samaritan Society – Bethany in Brainerd allows us to serve more people in need of post-acute care and services and will provide our hospital partners with additional flexibility as they continue to serve the community. I remain deeply grateful to our staff who continue to go above and beyond to take care of those who need them the most.”
To ensure adequate hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients, Governor Walz took a series of steps in October to free up space at long-term care facilities, including expanding the Emergency Staffing Pool so that short-term emergency temporary staff could be used to open up additional beds for patients ready to be discharged from a hospital; putting the National Guard on notice to provide staffing support at decompression facilities; and directing the Department of Human Services to free up capacity at state-operated long-term care facilities.
Since Governor Walz announced the action plan, the Department of Human Services has increased admissions from community hospitals to state-operated facilities by 12.5%, a measure that has both created space for patients who need acute hospital care, and allowed hospitals to refer patients who require complex behavior care to facilities that offer it.
Good Samaritan Society – Bethany is the second alternative care site to open in Minnesota. Last week, Benedictine St. Gertrude’s in Shakopee made 30 beds available for patients after receiving support from the Minnesota National Guard and state-funded staff through the COVID-19 Emergency Staffing Pool.
The Administration received proposals from multiple nursing facilities around the state willing to receive patients from hospitals. The Minnesota Department of Health and DHS are working to determine facilities best suited to expand this program.