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To prepare for a potential surge, M Health Fairview is opening new COVID-19 care units

To accommodate an anticipated surge of COVID-19 cases, M Health Fairview is implementing a cohorting plan that centralizes COVID-19 patients at three different hospitals within our system.
To accommodate an anticipated surge of COVID-19 cases, M Health Fairview is implementing a plan to centralize COVID-19 patients to provide the safest care for patients with and without COVID.

As M Health Fairview Bethesda Hospital, the state’s first dedicated COVID-19 care facility, nears full capacity, we plan to open two new COVID-19 cohort care units, located at M Health Fairview St. Joseph’s Hospital and M Health Fairview Southdale Hospital.

These additional locations were selected given their proximity to Bethesda Hospital and established acute care capacity including ICU beds and negative air pressure rooms.

Our work at Bethesda Hospital has proven cohort care – the grouping of COVID-19 patients together in one designated area – is a safe and effective care model. Our two new cohort units will help us accommodate an expected surge of COVID-19 patients. While that surge is likely weeks away, our system is taking these proactive steps now to ensure that we are prepared.

Unlike Bethesda Hospital, which only treats COVID-19 patients, other services like emergency and mental health inpatient care will continue at St. Joseph’s and Southdale Hospitals. Pregnancy and delivery care for women will also be available at The Birthplace at M Health Fairview Southdale Hospital.

Safety for all of our non-COVID-19 patients at these locations is a top priority for our care teams. COVID-positive patients transferred to St. Joseph’s and Southdale will be housed in their own hospital unit to limit exposure for others.

"Our goal is to continue to separate those patients who do not have COVID-19 but need to receive care at St. Joseph's or Southdale Hospitals, and make sure that they are just as safe as a patient would be anywhere in the country," said Greg Beilman, MD, senior vice president of acute operations and executive medical director. "They will have separate entrances to allow us to screen patients and screen staff separately."

  • Birthplace and NICU care
    “Pregnancy and delivery care at all M Health Fairview Birthplaces is safe for women, their partners, and their babies,” said Medical Director of Community Birthplaces Laura France, MD. Staff and patients have access to personal protective equipment (PPE) as needed, and Birthplace teams have developed new standards to limit COVID-19 exposure, including universal masking, visitor restrictions, and universal COVID-19 testing for admitted patients.

    “We still have the wonderful nursing staff, your obstetric provider, and our anesthesia colleagues available as they were before the pandemic started,” France said.

  • Emergency medical and mental health care
    Both St. Joseph’s Hospital and Southdale Hospital will continue to operate their emergency departments, mental health inpatient services, and will continue to perform life-saving procedures.  Patients in need of emergency medical services should continue to utilize these emergency rooms.

  • Previously scheduled appointments
    Your care provider will contact you to provide instructions on conducting your visit. If you have a new or evolving care need, you should contact your provider or visit to plan the appropriate care appointment.

Cohorting centralizes resources – including PPE for staff and medical equipment for patients – and scales efficient care procedures, in accordance with CDC guidelines.

The timing of the transition at Southdale and St. Joseph’s will depend on the number of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients in need of hospitalization, as well as the level of care they require. If Minnesota experiences a high number of COVID-19 cases and a new cohort unit is needed, some existing patients and their care teams may be relocated to a new location within our system where they will continue receiving care. This will further limit potential exposure to COVID-19 for those relocated patients.

Healthcare workers providing care to COVID-19 patients at St. Joseph’s Hospital or Southdale Hospital will don full PPE including N95 masks, isolation masks, eye protection and gloves.

Learn more about our PPE policies and how we are protecting our healthcare workers.

We are tremendously proud of our team and the work everyone is doing to care for our COVID-19 patients and all patients that are receiving care across our hospitals. As doctors, nurses, and staff, this is what we were called to do. We are prepared to care for and protect our community, patients and fellow healthcare workers.