‘It’s all hands on deck here’: COVID-19 update at the Brookings Health System

Local News

BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) – Sanford and the other major hospitals in the state aren’t the only ones facing challenges with COVID-19 and bed availability. More rural hospitals, like the Brookings Health System, are too.

The Brookings Health System is operating with about five fewer nurses than what they’re used to and they’re seeing a shortage of available beds. That’s why the staff here is encouraging everyone to get vaccinated and stay safe this holiday season to protect the community but also help the health care workers.

Jaclyn Rauen, the inpatient care director at Brookings Health System says the challenges they are seeing now are similar to what they faced a year ago, if not worse.

“We still have a large population of COVID-19 patients that are hospitalized, which take a great deal of staff on our end,” Rauen said. “But we also have the patients who went a year maybe without seeking out health care. And those patients are coming to us sicker.”

Bunny Christie, the infection preventionist at the hospital says the majority of their COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated and need a lot of care.

“The people that are hospitalized right now are very sick. It doesn’t matter if it’s the original variant form, if it’s the Delta variant or the Omicron variant, people are very ill right now,” Christie said.

The Brookings Health System would usually send their really sick patients to the larger area hospitals for more specialized care, if needed. However, those hospitals are also struggling to find available beds.

“I think, right now, the important thing for the community to know is that health care is still battling COVID-19. Health care is hard right now, it’s challenging,” Rauen said. “Our nurses are working endless hours, our respiratory therapists are working endless hours. It’s all hands on deck here.”

That’s why nurses and doctors are urging people to get their vaccines and booster shots.

“While we’re struggling about whether or not we should get the vaccine, what we really need to be doing is thinking about how it affects all of our neighbors and our friends and our family,” Christie said.

Christie says across the state there have also been multiple patients with co-infection of COVID-19 and influenza, so she urges everyone to get the flu shot as well.

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