Duluth hospitals looking to hire front line staff to ease COVID strain

Duluth area hospitals are ramping up for vaccine approval while also feeling the strain of a large number of critical COVID cases in their ICU.

Both hospitals say they are seeing their front-line clinical care staff work at impressive, unprecedented rates.

To ease the strain and compensate for when some staff may get sick or be unable to work, they have hundreds of open positions to fill, especially for nurses.

Essentia Health President, Dr. John Pryor, says this need follows the nationwide nurse shortage heightened by the pandemic.

He also says it’s due to people delaying care for chronic illnesses that could put them in the hospital.

Dr. Pryor says they are still able to care for their patients but are starting to look towards the future.

“Are we doing okay? Yes. Our nurses and healthcare people, in general, are really rallying,” said Dr. Pryor at a Thursday press conference. “It makes me so proud to work at Essentia, and I know the same thing at St. Luke’s. They are working overtime and working to care for you. Our beds are staffed, but we are concerned for the future.”

Both Essentia and St. Luke’s are gearing up to administer the vaccine to the public.

Healthcare workers, people at higher risk, and essential workers will be among the first to be vaccinated.

Dr. Pryor expects everyone who wants the vaccine in the Northland will be vaccinated by the Fall of 2021.

He also assured the vaccines are safe with minimal side effects, but people with concerns should consult with their primary doctor.

Essentia Health laid off hundreds of people earlier in the year. Dr. Pryor said Essentia has hired back virtually all of the affected employees involved specifically in clinical care.

However, he didn’t touch on other areas of the hospital.

Essentia’s career website Thursday shows nearly 500 job openings in the Duluth area.

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