Sanford Health Fargo reduces surgical capacity by 30% amid staffing crunch

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Sanford Health hospitals in Fargo, N.D., are reducing surgical capacity by 30 percent amid staffing strain and a surge of COVID-19 cases, a hospital official confirmed to Becker's.

Doug Griffin, MD, vice president and medical officer of Sanford Health Fargo, said Sanford Medical Center Fargo, Sanford Broadway Medical Center and Sanford South University Medical Center are prioritizing surgeries and procedures based on clinical need.

"These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis with our physicians calling their patients to discuss their options and make decisions together," Dr. Griffin said. "Our focus is on meeting the healthcare needs in our region."

By delaying scheduled services, Sanford Health Fargo said it aims to ensure it has adequate resources and staff to treat patients who have urgent care needs, both COVID-19 patients and those with serious illnesses or injuries.

"We are monitoring our capacity very closely and will make changes as needed," Dr. Griffin said. "There is no greater priority than the health and safety of our patients, team members and the communities we serve. This is a significant decision that helps us protect our team and to meet high demand."

Sanford Health hospitals in Fargo, which are part of Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Sanford Health, are among hospitals and health systems in the U.S. that have adjusted surgical capacity amid the latest pandemic wave to ensure adequate care for critical patients.

The hospitals in Fargo have been at capacity for weeks and simultaneously have been grappling with a shortage of workers, Dr. Griffin said during a press briefing, according to The Hill

"We are frequently calling staff, offering large amounts of incentives for them to work extra. ... We think this is the most dire staffing situation we've ever faced," he said, according to the publication.

Dr. Griffin said Sanford Health Fargo has hired at least 150 travel or contract nurses from other areas — but hundreds of more workers, including nurses and respiratory therapists, are needed for the hospital to be fully staffed.

New daily COVID-19 hospitalization rates in North Dakota have increased 9 percent over the last two weeks, according to data from The New York Times.  

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