Surge in COVID cases close to overwhelming local hospitals

Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 5:00 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - As Northeast Wisconsin continues to see growing numbers of coronavirus cases, a local emergency room doctor about just how dire the situation is in the community. Dr. Paul Casey, the Medical Director of the Emergency Department at Bellin Hospital, took his concerns to Facebook, hoping the public plea would help the community understand the seriousness of the spread right now.

Because of privacy laws like HIPPA, health care professionals are always so careful about not speaking out about patients or situations within their healthcare system, but as the number of coronavirus cases continue to trend upwards, with no end in sight, one local emergency room physician has had enough.

“I can’t speak to other areas in the state, but in Brown County we’re in deep trouble,” says Dr. Paul Casey. He’s been the Medical Director of Bellin Hospital’s Emergency Department for the past 16 years. What he’s seen lately, with regard to the number of COVID patients at his hospital, as well as others in the area, led him to speak out.

According to Dr. Casey, “Over the last three weeks we have a had a remarkable surge in COVID patients after being down to one inpatient in the first part of June.”

In a Facebook post, now shared more than 3,000 times, that includes a graph of the Bellin hospitalizations, due to COVID, Dr. Casey describes the second wave of the virus hitting Northeast Wisconsin. He says, “To me it was striking. You could see the first wave, it was a nice bell shaped curve up and down, it flattened out, and then since then it’s been steadily rising and over the past three weeks you see that huge spike and that’s just the first limb of another bell shaped curve.”

The second wave is here, and it is here with a vengeance. All four Green Bay hospitals are close to capacity. Our ICU...

Posted by Paul Casey on Friday, September 25, 2020

As of Monday, according to Dr. Casey, Bellin Hospital is at 92% capacity, with nearly 30 of those patients being treated for COVID-19. The increase in census has led the hospital to implement contingency plans, like staging overflow patients in hallways until rooms can be found for them. Bellin is also considering measures like discharging patients sooner or limiting elective surgeries like it did back in the spring.

This surge comes as the Bellin system as a whole has more than a hundred staff members quarantined because of exposure to COVID.

“We have no excess capacity and to have 150 people out on quarantine severely limits our ability to adequately care for the surge. It’s a big problem,” adds Dr. Casey.

To prevent hospitals from going into crisis mode, now, more than ever, people need to understand the dangers of COVID. The current local outbreak is all from community spread, a trend that could slow if people follow prevention guidelines.

Dr. Casey adds, “You have to wear a mask when you’re in public within six feet of another person. It’s that simple. If 90% of the people did that we would put an end to this increasing surge in patients.”

With a less than 1% death rate associated with COVD, Dr. Casey understands people won’t take the virus seriously until they or someone they love is impacted, but with the virus highly contagious and if the number of infected people doesn’t slow down, our local healthcare systems will become overwhelmed.

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