Aspirus: COVID-19 surge causing delays in healthcare access
For the Tomahawk Leader
WISCONSIN – During the week of Sunday, Dec. 12, Wisconsin saw its highest level of COVID-19 hospitalizations since Jan. 2021, Aspirus Health said in a release from Friday, Dec. 17, citing the Wisconsin Hospital Association.
“Similar surges are occurring throughout the Midwest and creating critical access issues,” Aspirus stated. “The need to care for COVID-19 patients in our communities continues to grow amid industry-wide staffing challenges.”
Aspirus Health and many other systems are delaying non-emergent surgeries that would require a hospital stay because patient rooms are currently in high demand, the release said.
“When you need access to emergency care or care that requires an inpatient hospital bed, that care may be delayed or it might be harder to come by,” said Robin Rudie, Aspirus Wausau Hospital Emergency Department Director. “We might be asking you to consider transferring to another hospital location in our system to get a bed.”
On Dec. 14, Wisconsin surpassed New Hampshire for the most COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, Aspirus said, citing the New York Times.
“Contributing to the current surge is the fact that the majority of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 continue to be unvaccinated,” Aspirus stated. “As of Dec. 17, 106 of the 137 patients in the Aspirus system hospitalized for COVID-19 were not fully vaccinated.
Over 90% of the 43 COVID-19 ICU patients at that time were not fully vaccinated, the release said.
“I’ve been a nurse for 20 years,” Rudie stated. “I’ve been at Aspirus for 22 years, and this has been by far the hardest two years of my career.”
Aspirus said patients are still encouraged to seek medical attention if they need care, but should be prepared to wait for non-emergent needs.
Aspirus and health systems throughout the region have implemented vaccination programs for their employees to create the safest environment possible within their facilities.
“The staff are committed,” Rudie said. “They’re here. They’re ready to continue to keep serving our community, but we do need our communities’ help. We do need help encouraging people to mask in public places, encouraging people to get vaccinated, or get the booster when it’s available to them.”
COVID-19 vaccinations are available through Aspirus Health and numerous pharmacies in area communities. Boosters or initial vaccination series can be scheduled through Aspirus using the MyAspirus online patient portal or mobile app. Appointments are also available by calling the Aspirus COVID-19 Call Center at 844-568-0701 or 715-843-1454. The Call Center has been experiencing high call volumes, so community members are encouraged to use MyAspirus for convenience.