COVID-19 Surging in Western Wisconsin
La Crosse County has 15-fold increase in cases, hospital beds 90% full.
Western Wisconsin health officials are warning communities about the ongoing spike in COVID-19 cases and how it could affect local health care systems in the coming weeks.
During a press briefing Thursday, Jason Craig, regional chair of administration for Mayo Clinic Health System in Northwest Wisconsin, warned that local case rates and hospitalizations are rising rapidly.
Craig said Mayo has seen an increase in hospitalizations over the last three weeks and officials are worried once again about their ability to care for all patients if the trend continues.
“While we’re very accustomed to managing hospitals with full hospital beds, COVID patients have much longer stays due to the complexity of their care, and that causes a decrease in our overall availability of hospital beds throughout the region,” Craig said.
DHS reported on Friday that La Crosse County had a seven-day average of 30 new COVID-19 cases. Two weeks ago, the average case rate was 24.
Intensive care beds in La Crosse area hospitals are hovering at or above 90 percent full, similar to statewide capacity reported by DHS. While COVID-19 patients are making up a growing number of ICU patients, Cutts said hospitals are also seeing more acute patients resulting from a delay in care earlier in the pandemic and an unseasonable number of patients with respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. Cutts said RSV is a common virus that typically flares up in the fall around cold and flu season and most commonly affects infants and older adults.
Dr. Michael Dolan, chief medical operating officer for Gundersen Health System, said COVID-19 patients in the ICU essentially require one-on-one nursing care, which can stretch staffing resources thin.
“The heart attack patients, the stroke patients, the trauma patients still keep coming because they’re going to happen at a normal rate every day. And so you’re still dealing with those things that you would normally deal with, but now you’ve got, you know, between four and 10 beds taken up with COVID patients that are really, really sick,” he said.
Dolan said the rise in new cases is what’s most worrying for health care providers. He said it usually takes two weeks from when a case is identified to when a patient may need treatment at the hospital.
But Dolan said it’s hard to know exactly what to expect from a new surge given the change in the kinds of COVID-19 patients providers are seeing and the high rate of vaccinations among those age 65 and older.
“If you would have looked at our census in November of 2020, you would have seen that 90 to 95 percent of the patients in the hospital were over the age of 65. Well I can tell you that now it’s 90 percent that are probably under the age of 65,” Dolan said. “It’s a completely different demographic. And so it may not translate completely into the same number of hospitalizations as it did last fall.”
“People were really traumatized by what happened last fall, watching people who were relatively healthy days before, weeks before, dying. And now they’re starting to see that (again) only in a younger population,” Dolan said. “I’m seeing an impact very similar to PTSD, and people are feeling very traumatized.”
Pam White, chief nursing officer at Mayo Clinic Health System in Northwest Wisconsin, said she is also seeing the physical and emotional toll the recent increase in hospitalizations is taking on her staff.
“We’re only human, and just like you, we’re tired of COVID. We wish we were talking about COVID-19 in the past tense, but we’re not,” White said during the press briefing on Thursday.
White encouraged people to get vaccinated and resume public health precautions like wearing a mask and avoiding large gatherings to prevent the rise in cases from continuing.
Western Wisconsin Health Officials Warn Of ‘Imminent’ COVID-19 Surge, Rising Hospitalizations was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.
- UW System Vaccination Rates Vary Widely - Rich Kremer - Sep 18th, 2021
- MKE County: COVID-19 Cases Still High in Milwaukee County - Graham Kilmer - Sep 17th, 2021
- Milwaukee Health Department excusing inaction with insufficient data, right-wing talking points - Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association - Sep 16th, 2021
- Gov. Evers Delivers Radio Address on New Investments to Support Local COVID-19 Pandemic Response and Recovery - Gov. Tony Evers - Sep 16th, 2021
- UWM reaches 70% vaccination rate goal, pushes for more - University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee - Sep 16th, 2021
- Data Wonk: Biden Vaccine Plan Helps GOP Governors - Bruce Thompson - Sep 15th, 2021
- Gov. Evers, DHS Remind Wisconsinites to Get Vaccinated to Get $100 - Wisconsin Department of Health Services - Sep 15th, 2021
- American Family Field COVID-19 Testing Site Closing - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 14th, 2021
- For Ron Johnson, Prolonging the Pandemic is Just Another Day at the Office - Democratic Party of Wisconsin - Sep 14th, 2021
- Nursing Home Workers Resist Vaccines - Madeline Fuerstenberg - Sep 13th, 2021
Read more about Coronavirus Pandemic here