COVID-19 brings staffing concerns

Published 5:32 pm Friday, January 14, 2022

In the shadow of soaring COVID-19 cases numbers, driven by the omicron variant, Mower County is struggling to keep up with challenges presented by staffing shortages throughout the county.

In her presentation to the Mower County Board of Commissioners Tuesday, Director of Health and Human Services Crystal Peterson, said the broad stresses being placed on staffing is being felt in long term care and congregate facilities.

It’s a concern echoing within the State of Minnesota as more members of the National Guard have been deployed to help assist where needed.

“I haven’t heard of the National Guard coming here, but there have been some requests to get them here,” Peterson said.

In early December of last year, Gov. Tim Walz authorized the training of National Guard members as CNA’s to help assist in long term care facilities that were being overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases.

However, the pressures being placed on the facilities isn’t the only area staffing challenges are being seen.

Peterson said that there are stresses being placed on her staff saying, “… a case manager has to make 50 calls rather than five calls to set something up.”

Peterson also said that case numbers are rising at a rate not yet seen before during the pandemic. The only real bright point is that the county is seeing fewer ICU hospitalizations.

In light of this Peterson said that the Centers for Disease Control’s recent recommendations that those with COVID-19 can quarantine for five rather than 10 days is shortsighted.

“It feels risky because we’ve seen people who had symptoms on day six,” she said.

In Other News:

• Commissioners also recognized Sergeant Amanda Meyeraan, a corrections officer with the Mower County Jail, who is leaving the jail after 13 years.

Meyeraan worked in the old jail and eventually carried over to the new jail when it was up and running. It made Meyeraan an integral piece of the jail staff that Sheriff Steve Sandvik said was an indispensable resource for the jail.

“Amanda has started from the bottom up,” Sandvik said Tuesday. “She started with our original jail. Amanda has been through all of that. In taking those responsibilities … it doesn’t come lightly.”

“Amanda has been a great advocate for people’s rights and demonstrating respect,” Sandvik added.

Director of Correctional Services Steve King also said that if his department needed anything, She was always willing to help.

“She is an outstanding person for the county and I’m sad to see her go,” King said. “When I have Amanda answering that phone, it’s amazing.”