Nurses and hospital staff stretched thin due to rising COVID-19 cases


Nurses and other hospital staff in Sioux Falls say they are being stretched thin and becoming increasingly frustrated with the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

Monday they put out a plea for the public to wear a mask, avoid large gatherings and practice social distancing to try and flatten the curve.

Traffic was backed up on Minnesota Avenue at this drive thru COVID-19 testing site.

The line of cars also circles around inside the parking lot.

Hospitalizations are on the rise.

Avera has even had to double up COVID-19 patients in some ICU units.

Both Avera and Sanford say their staff are becoming increasingly stressed.

“They’re tired they’re weary, the phrase I heard ‘bone weary’ I think we are bone weary,” Dr. Mike Elliot Chief Medical Officer at Avera Health said.

“They are working extra shifts, they are getting called in, they are trying to prioritize your care,” Dr. Mike Wilde Vice President Medical Officer of Sanford Health said.

And they’re becoming frustrated.

“There is the horrible disconnect between what they see when they walk through the halls of the hospitals when they take care of these patients, when they hold a patient’s hand; their last heartbeat occurs or their last breath occurs, then they go out into the community and they watch people gathering in masses of hundred or two hundred people, not wearing their masks, not seeming to understand that this is real folks people are dying from this,” Dr. Elliot said.

That’s why Sioux Falls mayor Paul Tenhaken continues to support wearing a mask, but remains adamant about not having a mask mandate.

He says it’s unenforceable and isn’t the solution; pointing to a map showing active cases around Sioux Falls.

“A mask mandate would only be citywide, in the city of Sioux Falls, where the problem is is everywhere,” TenHaken said. “So a mask mandate in one municipality is a tough thing to say is going to be a huge needle mover across the region, especially at the expense of the challenges that mandate would bring.”

The mayor says he’s equally frustrated with those who choose not to wear a mask while in public.

“I, as a mayor, can only do so much to try and control the behavior of 200,000 people and in this case 500,000 people, I am one mayor of 80 frickin square miles trying to control the behavior of an entire tri-state area and quite honestly I’m done,” Mayor TenHaken said.

Both hospitals say adding to their stress is the fluctuating numbers of staff who have either contracted the virus or are close contacts.

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