With COVID-19 cases rising across Minnesota, people are concerned about their own health, and about health care facilities. I share that concern.

At NH+C, we take the surge in COVID-19 cases very seriously. Our hospital and clinics continue to adapt as we care for all health conditions safely.

We’re seeing an increase in people with COVID-19 symptoms in our clinics and Emergency Department, plus an increase in patients who need hospital-level care. (We care for COVID-19 patients in designated space separate from other hospital patients.)

Most recently COVID-19 patients make up, on average, one-third to one-half of patients in Northfield Hospital.

That’s manageable, but at some point it will be hard to take more hospital patients. We monitor our capacity three times a day: number of patients, staffing levels, demand for beds. We’ll use those benchmarks to activate emergency plans if needed, with surge plans we created in the spring.

Hospitals across the region work together, transferring patients when needed where beds, staffing and equipment are available. As an example, if a patient needs ventilator care, we transfer them to a larger facility with a vent unit. We also receive transfers from other hospitals for patients that fit the level of care we provide.

In our system, we have ramped up clinic care for respiratory conditions, with separate respiratory care now in our Northfield, Lonsdale, Lakeville and Faribault clinics — plus Urgent Care by appointment in Lakeville.

Our COVID-19 precautions stay in place: screening at each entrance, masks required, distance in waiting rooms, personal protective equipment, and extra cleaning and sanitizing. We dial precautions up and down as needed; for example, we tightened visitor restrictions starting Nov. 10 and restricted all visitors as of Tuesday, Nov. 17.

Most local COVID-19 cases are caused by community spread, often from people who don’t have symptoms. That’s why personal precautions are so crucial right now: Wear a mask, keep your distance, avoid gatherings, stay home if you’re sick. These are the best ways to prevent spread, and it takes all of us to make them effective.

I know people are fatigued with this pandemic and just want to get back to normal, especially with the holidays coming. Truth is, until a vaccine is widely available, the best way we can fight COVID-19 is to each be responsible for our own behavior.

NH+C’s staff is working really hard, and they’ve been at it for eight months. They’re rallying to care for our community during this surge. I urge you all to do your part, too.

Steve Underdahl is President-CEO of Northfield Hospital + Clinics. Learn more at bit.ly/nhc-covid19.

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