After taking urgent action to provide staffing assistance for short-staffed Minnesota hospitals, Governor Tim Walz today announced more than 100 nurses will start arriving at health care facilities around the state beginning immediately.

Governor Walz last week directed $40 million in American Rescue Plan funding to hire emergency staff to provide care at certain hospitals dealing with staff shortages during the current COVID-19 case surge.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) secured the staffing support and is directing nursing teams to hospitals identified by regional healthcare providers as most in need of emergency personnel. The nurses will work up to 60 hours per week for 60 days to provide care for patients.

The first round of nursing teams will arrive at 23 hospitals this week. Another wave of an additional 100 nurses will arrive in Minnesota in the days ahead to support even more healthcare facilities.

“Our health care workers have provided superb care to sick Minnesotans throughout this pandemic. But now, the Omicron variant is causing cases to surge, in some cases sidelining our medical personnel,” said Governor Walz. “At this critical moment, when our doctors and nurses are asking for our help, we are providing it. More than 100 nurses will provide urgent care and relieve overworked staff at Minnesota hospitals right away, with more help on the way. As we confront the Omicron variant in the weeks ahead, the best way for Minnesotans to help our hospitals is to get vaccinated and get boosted for COVID-19, wear a mask in public, and get tested and stay home if you’re sick.”

 

“We are working across the state to ensure our hospitals have the staffing support they need to provide urgent care during this Omicron surge,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “As we deal with the difficult weeks ahead, we owe our doctors, nurses, and front-line heroes all the support they need, and every Minnesotan owes it to them to take simple steps to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19. Get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask, get tested, and stay home if you’re sick.”

 

Beginning Tuesday, 105 health care workers will start arriving to support the following hospitals:

  • Winona Health
  • Lake Region Healthcare
  • Alomere Health
  • Sanford Bemidji Medical Center
  • Carris Health – Willmar
  • Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center
  • Sanford Worthington Medical Center
  • Mayo Clinic Health System – Mankato
  • Essentia Health – St Mary’s Medical Center
  • CentraCare Monticello
  • M Health Fairview Lakes Medical Center – Wyoming
  • M Health Fairview Northland Medical Center – Princeton
  • M Health Fairview Southdale Hospital
  • Allina Health Clinic  – Buffalo
  • Allina Health – Cambridge Medical Center
  • CentraCare Melrose
  • Mercy Hospital
  • Abbott Northwestern Hospital
  • Regions Hospital
  • North Memorial Hospital
  • HCMC
  • M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Medical Center
  • United Hospital

 

“The COVID-19 response effort has been a team effort from the start, and with this intense Omicron surge we have needed to find creative solutions to make sure our health care workers have the support they need,” said MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “We appreciate our federal partners and all those who helped make today’s announcement possible, and we ask all Minnesotans to do their part to slow the spread and reduce pressure on our health care systems.”

Minnesota hospitals are reporting high levels staff absences due COVID-19 infections and exposures, even as they treat a rising number of COVID-19 patients. As of Monday, Minnesota hospitals are treating more than 1,600 people for COVID-19, nearly 80 more than this time last week. There are almost 250 COVID-19 patients in Minnesota ICUs.

Supporting our hospitals and long-term care facilities

With case counts expected to rise over the next couple weeks, the Walz-Flanagan Administration is using every available resource and taking action now to help ensure hospitals have the staffing support they need and Minnesotans get the care they need.

Since October, the Walz-Flanagan Administration has done the following to expand hospital capacity and relieve staffing shortfalls:

  • Launched four alternative care sites (in Shakopee, Brainerd, St. Paul, and Hopkins) to treat non-critical patients who no longer need to be hospitalized. By transferring non-critical patients to alternative care sites to continue their recovery, hospitals can treat more critical cases. This initiative has opened 85 beds in Minnesota hospitals.
  • Secured federal emergency staffing teams to relieve staff at three Minnesota hospitals.
  • Deployed more than 350 National Guard members to serve as skilled-nursing response teams in long-term care facilities around Minnesota. These teams have provided staffing support at 29 total long-term care facilities around Minnesota. As of Wednesday, January 12, Guard members are staffing 12 facilities.
  • Launched an initiative to recruit, train, and deploy 1,000 new certified nursing assistants to Minnesota long-term care facilities;
  • Distributed $50 million in federal American Rescue Plan funding available for immediate emergency grants to long-term care facilities to hire and retain employees. As of Tuesday, Jan. 4, these grants have been fully distributed; and
  • Directed the Department of Human Services to free up capacity at state-operated long-term care facilities.

Staying Safe to Support Our Hospitals

As the Omicron variant spreads in our state, every Minnesotan has a role to play to support hospitals and long-term care facilities.

  • Get Vaccinated. Minnesotans age 5 and up can be vaccinated. The vaccine can help keep you out of the hospital if you get sick, and that will make life a little easier on our doctors, nurses, and care providers. Find vaccines for the whole family at mn.gov/vaccine.
  • Get Boosted. All Minnesotans 12 and older should get a booster when they are due (five months after receiving Pfizer or Moderna, and two months after receiving Johnson & Johnson). Researchers believe the Omicron variant is more transmissible than previous variants, but getting fully vaccinated and boosted significantly increases protection against severe illness or death from infection.
  • Get Tested. To avoid spreading the virus, get tested if you feel ill. Take advantage of one of the many free testing options the state has to offer, or head to your local clinic or pharmacy. Testing options are available at mn.gov/covid19.
  • Stay Safe. Wear your mask while traveling and in indoor public settings like a grocery store, a shopping mall, or a school. Wash your hands, and do your best to avoid crowded indoor spaces before large gatherings — especially with high-risk loved ones and children under 5 who can’t be vaccinated.