Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
Governor Walz explained that we must shut down Minnesota to avoid overwhelming our 235 ICU beds with Covid-19 patients. Apparently, if the 236th patient showed up, we’d have no choice. We’d wheel her to the parking lot and leave her to die – there’s simply no way to treat her without an ICU bed.
So why do we have a hard limit on ICU beds? Why not get more of them? This is a serious question that maybe some SITDers can answer: what does an ICU bed to treat Covid-19 require?
Not talking about Minnesota luxury standard where you put one ICU bed in a hospital with sandwich bar in the cafeteria, talking about what Hawkeye Pierce would do. The governor is invoking martial law powers because fighting the virus is the equivalent of war. So what would a battlefield ICU bed for Covid-19 need?
Let’s say I want to double the number of Covid-19 treatment beds available. Is there anything special about the bed, itself, or can we call Original Mattress Factory to deliver a couple hundred beds? If the patients need to sit up to breathe, does the bed need electric tilt or could we call that pillow guy to bring us a few hundred of his fancy pillows to stuff behind them? Space – we’ve got high school gyms sitting empty. Dividers – call the cubicle people to slap up free-standing cubicle walls between beds.
Ventilator? That’s a fancy word for fan. Any leaf blower could push air into your lungs. Speed controller? Dimmer switch. Regulator valve? SCUBA dive shop. Fan, vacuum cleaner hose, mask, duct tape, let’s get creative. A CPAP doesn’t push hard enough but is that because the fan isn’t strong enough, or because the software limits it? Can we overclock the fan to blow harder?
Not medical grade? That woman in the parking lot is dying, does ‘medical grade’ really matter to her? Besides, there’s a machine shop in North Branch making aluminium AR-15 parts on state-of-the-art computer-controlled milling machines. Give them the software code for ventilator parts, offer them $10,000 per unit, I bet they could pound them out in a week.
Trained personnel to staff the bed? Rosie the Riveter learned a new job. You saying college kids today can’t? $50 an hour, you’re out of school anyway, sign up here.
Seriously – why is the existing number of ICU beds sufficient justification to impose martial law? Why not just build more ICU beds?
Seventy years ago, they figured out a way to build antisubmarine patrol boats in Shakopee. Submarines in Wisconsin.
We can figure this out – provided “figuring it out” is the real goal.
I’m not entirely sure it is, for everyone.