Like many hospitals across the country, Yankton’s Avera Sacred Heart Hospital (ASHH) is facing another whirlwind, with an increasing patient load as well as staffing issues combining to generate even more stress on everyone.

A story in Friday’s Press & Dakotan examined the pressures faced at ASHH in the face of a new COVID-19 surge. It’s an unfortunately familiar tale both here and elsewhere.

But it’s also a problem that cannot be viewed solely through a pandemic lens, although COVID is certainly an important factor.

The hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU) often nears or reaches capacity, but patients with other, non-COVID issues also need ICU attention at times, and that combines to create a critical mass that impacts the staff.

“Most of the communities think COVID has passed by. You see very few masks and not much of a discussion (about) this resumption of activities as normal,” said Doug Ekeren, ASHH’s regional president and CEO. “For our staff, who is taking care of COVID patients every day, they are tired.”

Ekeren pointed to a national shortage of health care workers that is also plaguing the hospital. He said this isn’t primarily due to workers resisting COVID vaccination mandates. The Avera system has such a policy, and while that has peeled away a few workers, Ekeren said, he noted that a “very strong majority” of workers thought a mandate was “the right thing … to do.” The health industry is facing the same hiring issues that have been impacting other industries and professions for several years: the lack of prospects for open positions, especially among highly skilled slots.

Thus, the pandemic with its many waves, the other medical issues with which hospitals must contend and the tight hiring market are putting intense pressure on medical facilities.

Ekeren said, “There are times where we might have to say ‘no’ to a potential admission and help that person find admission to another facility. We’ve had a few times where we have had to delay some elective surgical procedures that might take a bed.”

Further compounding the issue, Ekeren said, is that the COVID patients they see now who do end up in the ICU usually stay there longer. Because of that, he said, “we’ve had time periods where we did not have an ICU bed available in Yankton and there were not ICU beds available in Sioux Falls or Sioux City, Omaha or Lincoln.”

So, while this current COVID surge may not seem as bad as last fall, for instance, there is still a cumulative effect that is creating hardships.

We once again are indebted to the medical staff at ASHH and other facilities who must deal with this stress and uncertainty, all because they need to be there for us.

As Ekeren said, we should be thankful for the sacrifices and long hours these workers put in.

It remains a difficult job, and we would be much, much worse off without them.


(9) comments


Try using safe, inexpensive outpatient therapies like Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine. Its shameful that America continues this scandal while other countries have virtually eliminated infections and deaths.




What is there to be thankful for as the patients continue to die? Avera has literally terminated doctors who use the proven medications and saved lives. This whole scam stinks and I hope some more nurses and doctors awaken to it soon.


Abe, this bit of misinformation is new to me. So I’ll bite:

Which “other countries have virtually eliminated infections and deaths”?


Find out here:


But I'm betting you are waaaaay to lazy to watch a very informative one hour video. The largest state in India and Ecuador.

Hopefully this video will be seen by healthcare workers far and wide


This is why you dont understand. You swallow the MSM vomit and skip independent journalists completely. You are brainwashed.


As usual, the liberal sheep have nothing to refute this. Crickets.


Seriously, Abe. “Rumble” is the best you can do?


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