Chippewa Valley hospital beds filling up with COVID and non-COVID patients

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 7:17 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - With the Delta variant surging in Wisconsin, hospitals are seeing more COVID-19 patients at their doors.

One patient who showed up at Mayo Clinic’s Eau Claire hospital Sunday morning was 89-year-old Garnet Shong who had a stroke.

Her daughter, Mary Donaldson, said Shong needed more tests but there was problem at the Eau Claire hospital.

“They needed more tests, an MRI and an EEG, but at that time there were no more beds at Mayo so she ended up being transported down to La Crosse,” Donaldson, who lives in Alaska, said.

Though she said her mother’s care at Mayo Clinic was excellent, it was upsetting hearing her mother was taken an hour away for tests.

In a statement to WEAU, Mayo Clinic Health System said:

“With high demand for our services, including an increase in patients with COVID-19, there are time periods during which some of our hospitals in Northwest Wisconsin are on diversion status, meaning patients who need to be admitted are transferred to another hospital. We take all steps possible to avoid these time periods and work hard to keep those periods as short as possible when they do occur. Diversion is only done when it is safe to send patients elsewhere and they are stable enough to make the journey.”

Mayo Clinic isn’t the only Chippewa Valley hospital filling up.

HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s Hospitals’ Chief Nursing Officer Jen Drayton said she’s seeing more beds occupied by COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients who waited for treatment during the pandemic.

“There was a lot of delay in care,” she said. “Patients are sicker when they’re coming and we’re really having to admit more patients than normal right now.”

Marshfield Medical Center Eau Claire Chief Administrative Officer Bill Priest said staff there are treating plenty of virus patients.

“We’ve experienced a significant increase in COVID hospitalizations over the last two months, really, and because of that have opened our COVID unit,” he said.

Both Priest and Drayton said their hospitals aren’t cancelling elective procedures yet but that could change.

They also said many of their hospitals’ COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.

Hearing that upset Donaldson since her mother couldn’t get care in Eau Claire.

“I guess it’s a choice to get vaccinated or not and I did not have a choice if my mother could have a bed or not,” she said.

Though vaccination doesn’t guarantee someone won’t end up hospitalized, Priest and Drayton are asking people to get their shot as it greatly reduces the likelihood someone who gets the virus ends up in an ICU.

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