"Surge plan" in place for COVID-19 patients | Prairie Public Broadcasting

"Surge plan" in place for COVID-19 patients

Apr 14, 2020

Governor Doug Burgum says he gives North Dakotans credit for the slow spread of COVID-19 in the state.

At his daily briefing this afternoon, Burgum said North Dakota continues to rank in the top ten states for its testing per capita. The state has yet to reach a peak in cases, but he says residents following "North Dakota smart" social distancing guidelines and staying home as often as possible is paying off.

"People have been reducing non-essential travel, they've been working to stay healthy with good hygiene, they've been keeping physical distance and starting to wear masks. They're not gathering in groups larger than ten. I just wanted to say: thank you."

Burgum invited North Dakota's Chief Operating Officer, Tammy Miller to speak about the state's surge plan in the event of a high peak of COVID-19 patients needing medical care. She less than 1 percent of the state's hospital beds are currently being used by COVID-19 patients, and she doesn't think the surge plan will need to be executed - but it is ready to go if needed.

"Our mission is to protect the citizens of North Dakota, and to minimize loss of life and economic hardship," she said.

"As we put together this plan, the overarching goal is that our hospitals and communities will have the resources they need to handle any surge in COVID-19 patients. This plan will define the roles of all the parties in the plan, as well as all of the resources that are available."

Miller says the plan has four tiers - the first tier deals with the current capacity which is being utilized right now. The second and third tiers assume hospitals are operating with increased capacity, and plans are executed to supplement staffing and supplies. The fourth and final tier is the plan for the crisis situation of overflow of patients into "minimum care facilities" or field hospitals.

"To be clear, a minimum care facility is not an alternative hospital. It is a facility that is organized only to handle COVID-19 patients who may need hospital admission when it's not available."

Miller says the North Dakota National Guard would be deployed to help execute the fourth tier plan. Minimal care facilities are being set up in Fargo and Bismarck, with plans for more in Devils Lake, Dickinson, Minot, Grand Forks, Jamestown and Williston.