Wisconsin hospitals face staffing and capacity concerns as COVID cases surge

In Alachua County, cases are rising, but deaths are decreasing.
In Alachua County, cases are rising, but deaths are decreasing.(WCJB)
Published: Nov. 9, 2020 at 7:00 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Overwhelmed and overworked is how health care workers nationwide say they’re feeling as COVID-19 cases continue to increase at record speed.

NBC15 checked in with health officials in Wisconsin who say many hospitals are worried about bed capacity and their staff’s well-being.

As of Monday, there were at least 294 patients being treated for COIVD-19 in South-central Wisconsin alone. Nearly 80 of those patients reported to be in ICU care with numbers growing daily.

Statewide, DHS reports more than 2,000 COVID patients in Wisconsin hospitals.

“What we’re seeing throughout Wisconsin is about an 87 percent bed capacity and some of the piece attributing to that is just the availability of the health care workforce,” said Gina Dennik-Champion with the Wisconsin Nurses Association. Dennik-Champion says many nurses are trying to keep up with the surge in cases while battling stress and fatigue.

“We are worried. We’re tired. We’re feeling like when is this going to end,” she said.

As cases grow, so does concern over hospital staffing. Many nurses are coming out of retirement to help or from other health care facilities in the state.

“What we’re seeing is nurses are either out because of COVID or they have symptoms, they may be out because they’re in quarantine or they may be out because schools are closed and they’re the primary parent and now school teacher for their children,” said Dennik-Champion/

SSM Health officials say the community should still be concerned about potentially overwhelming the health care system.

“Our health care workers are feeling both the same stress and strain that all families are feeling right now but they’re also feeling the additional strain of having to take care of those who come in sick on a daily basis,” said Damond Boatwright, President of SSM Health in Wisconsin.

“I’ve heard from a number of staff that feel disheartened as they see the spread of COVID and see members of the public out not wearing masks and continuing to gather in large groups,” he said.

Boatwright says the community can help by working together and taking care of themselves. In the meantime, SSM Health is providing resources to staff who may be feeling overwhelmed.

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