Statewide hospital capacity problems as COVID-19 numbers rise

Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 4:58 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2021 at 7:19 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The lack of beds due to CoVID-19 patients remains a problem for many hospitals statewide.

As Action 2 News previously reported Wednesday, 21 counties in the state are now considered to have “critically high” spread.

That high volume continues to put a squeeze on hospitals and their supply of beds for patients.

“For the past several weeks we have seen a steady upward tick. So yes, it’s true that capacity’s okay for now but it will take very little to tip it over. So every day there’s a few admissions of patients with COVID and overtime, then you know, the numbers add up,” said Dr. Nasia Safdar, UW Health Medical Director of Infection Control.

UW Health says it is not yet diverting care, but if they do find themselves in a situation where they don’t have enough beds, then normal operations would have to be adjusted.

“That would typically mean, you know, postponing elective surgeries and procedures where it wouldn’t harm patients if they had to absolutely wait for a few weeks. Of course it’s not something that anyone wants to have to do, and it’s fortunate that we haven’t needed to do it yet,” said Dr. Safdar.

According to the Wisconsin DHS, 90.5% of hospital beds in the state are in use, and 93.5% of ICU beds are taken.

Last Tuesday, ThedaCare told Action 2 News it had no ICU beds available because COVID patients need longer stays at the hospital.

Bellin Health says it also continue to experience high hospital volumes, “but our health system’s surge planning process has helped ensure we have enough ICU beds available to serve all our patients.”

HSHS Hospitals provided Action 2 News with a statement saying in part, “All HSHS Hospitals in Wisconsin are near capacity due to widespread COVID-19 in our communities and other medical conditions requiring hospitalization, consistent with what other health care systems across the state are experiencing.”

Health officials say they’ll need to be fully prepared and fully staffed this time around as cases and transmission rise.

“I think if there are infections in the community then that means health care personnel will also become infected at some point and so the staffing really needs to take into account that there needs to be backup for the backup and so on, and you know, these are highly trained individuals and it’s not easy to do that,” said Dr. Safdar.

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