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Western Wisconsin hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients

HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital
HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital(WEAU)
Published: Nov. 10, 2020 at 9:28 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The surge in COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin is taking on a toll on the healthcare system.

Heather Krieger works on the frontlines as a dietitian at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls.

The pandemic has forced her to adjust the way she does her job but she says the biggest challenge is the loss of taste and smell that many COVID-19 patients experience.

“We have people that have poor appetite or don’t have a taste as a side effect and then they don’t eat,” Krieger says. “When you don’t have adequate nutrition support to help the body fight infection and the immune system, it does tend to take a toll and that is why people are staying longer because it is harder to get nutrition in.”

Krieger is seeing firsthand how the virus is overwhelming hospitals as HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital approach capacity.

Mayo Clinic Health System released a statement Tuesday saying its beds in its northwest Wisconsin hospitals are full. According to the health system, about 50% of ICU beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients which is why it is deferring elective procedures, offering remote monitoring and at home care.

Mayo Clinic Health Systems and HSHS Hospitals are calling on the community to take COVID-19 precautions seriously.

“It is not just about ourselves but it is about other people. If we continue to see the trend and it doesn’t plateau or subside or go down we are going to have an increase and we do worry about that,” Krieger says.

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