Mayo Clinic Health System deferring elective procedures to care for COVID-19 surge

Published: Oct. 30, 2020 at 4:54 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -The Mayo Clinic Health System announced Friday that all elective procedures through at least November are cancelled.

They’re trying to free up hospital beds and staff to care for the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Northwest Wisconsin.

“There’s no other way to say it, we need your help," said Richard Helmers, the Regional Vice President for Mayo Clinic Health Systems in Northwest Wisconsin. "We’re facing a sobering reality in Eau Claire and in our surrrounding communities. Our COVID 19 community infection rates continue to increase rapidly.”

Patients hospitalized with COVID-19 require one-on-one care. They also stay in the hospital two to three times longer than non-COVID patients.

In the spring when the virus first surged, the biggest challenges facing hospitals were a lack of equipment and knowledge about the virus.

Now the hospitals' greatest concern is staffing.

“In July, some of our Northwest Wisconsin staff traveled to Mayo Clinic’s Arizona campus when they were experiencing a surge. Now we need their help,” said Pam White, the Chief Nursing Officer for the Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire.

Next week nurses from Rochester, Minnesota and Arizona are coming to Wisconsin to work in Mayo hospitals.

Currently 230 staff members for Mayo Clinic Health Systems in Northwest Wisconsin can’t work because they’ve been exposed to COVID-19.

Mayo says the majority of these cases are not exposures from working at a hospital. The community is spreading the virus to their staff.

“The time has come for everyone in Northwest Wisconsin to take this situation seriously," said Jason Craig, the Regional Chair of Administration for the Mayo Clinic Health System. "What you saw on the news earlier this year, in the spring in places like New York City, that’s happening in the Chippewa Valley right now.”

Mayo, HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital and the Marshfield Clinic Health System have all activated surge plans to handle COVID cases.

Mayo is the only one so far to defer elective care.

All three hospital systems do want to remind the community that all are still treating emergency cases.

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