No ICU beds left in metro as winter crashes worry Minnesota emergency personnel

As Minnesota sees its first significant snowfalls of the year, emergency workers are worried snowy crashes could put further strain on an already stretched hospital system.

Currently in the Twin Cities metro, amid a COVID-19 spike and hospital bed shortage, there are no intensive care unit (ICU) beds available and only 23 statewide.

With emergency rooms are so frequently full, EMS workers are having to criss-cross the metro to find space.

"Now, it’s getting to the point where we’re telling crews to ask before you transport," said.

Jeff Lanenberg is the south metro operations manager for Allina Health. so while a snow like on Wednesday might be pretty, it’s also pretty stressful because it typically boosts calls another 20 percent for accidents or falls.

So if there’s every a time to heed warnings to drive carefully, they hope you listen now.

"There’s 29 hospitals in the metro, deepening on what you consider the metro, they open, they close, and again it’s all based on volumes coming into the ERs," explained Lanenberg.

In the emergency rooms, when they are taking patients, EMS crews from all systems are now starting to experience what EMS calls "wall time."

"Where we actually have patients on our stretchers for 15, 20, 30 minutes because we can’t get them into the ER," explained Lanenberg. "Because they have to free up a bed."