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Healthcare workers and EMTs at work find their own way to celebrate Thanksgiving

SAVAGE, Minn. – Renee Rosenberg is out this Thanksgiving, but not on her way to a family reunion. She is one of dozens of other emergency workers on duty this holiday should you need assistance.

It’s not ideal, but they make the best of it. Every EMS crew with Allina Health has a Thanksgiving takeaway, and some have brought their own apple pie and ice cream as rewards, she said.

“We’re stuck together, so let’s make the best of it,” joked Rosenberg, the operations manager of Allina Health EMS in the southern metropolis. “We are very grateful and honored to serve our communities as we do.”

Even during work, the first-aiders in their team repeatedly experience moments of joy – not least thanks to Evie, their therapy dog. The puppy break is much needed at a time when Rosenberg says they’re busier than ever due to a rise in respiratory illnesses.

Minnesota is facing a surge in RSV among children, 180 of whom were hospitalized last week. The state health department also said the number of new flu cases in Minnesota this season is surpassing that of recent years.

“Especially with the stress associated with the diseases, we’re all tired,” she said. “What we’re asking of our community is to take care of yourself – wash your hands. Give us a little mercy, give the hospital staff a little mercy, because we’re doing the best we can with the resources we have. COVID has taken a lot of people away from healthcare.”

There are also fewer staff than before the pandemic, which means more responsibility for those still in the workforce. Her calls have increased since the peak of COVID, she said.

Abbott Northwestern has healthcare professionals working for you. You’ve been through a lot in the past few years. But dr Jon Fuerstenberg, an intensive care physician who works in the ICU, said they are in high spirits because of the camaraderie they share.

“There is usually a collegiality where everyone has to work on the holidays. The sisters always have a party. That’s one of the first things we ask: Which ICU is celebrating the big bliss or celebration?” he said.

While COVID surges have eased, the hospital is still struggling — not because there aren’t enough beds, but because there aren’t enough people, particularly nurses, who Fürstenberg said have been feeling the brunt of the stress the pandemic is putting on health care system.

His hospital hasn’t been overwhelmed by RSV as it mostly deals with adult patients, but it has taken some teenagers from full children’s hospitals, he added.

“I think the scary thing is that we’re still maxing out the number of patients we can take because of staffing,” Furstenberg said. “If there were to be a big surge – which might happen with COVID, but particularly concerned now about this influenza and RSV potential of a surge – I don’t know if we would have a lot of capacity to deal with that.”

Medical Experts offer these tips to relieve the emergency rooms in hospitals:

  • Stay home if you or your family are sick.

  • wash hands often.

  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a handkerchief or shirt sleeve, not your hands.

  • Clean frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs and mobile devices.

  • Avoid close contact with sick people.

  • Mask if necessary.

  • Stay up to date on flu shots and COVID-19 boosters.

  • Consider emergency care, a primary care provider, or telemedicine options for non-emergency care.

  • Have a GP for your whole family and stay connected and up to date on preventive care so the GP team can work with you on any health issue.

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