MILWAUKEE — Advocate Aurora Health leaders reported the health system hit a record high of hospitalized COVID patients since the pandemic began.
During a media briefing on Monday, the health system said 1,491 people are in the hospital for COVID-19 across its Wisconsin and Illinois locations. The chief nursing officer went on to say their patient load more than doubled in the last month and quadrupled over the past 60 days.
A spokesperson specified later than 528 of the patients are in Wisconsin. There are 142 COVID patients at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center alone, the majority of Wisconsin cases.
"These are very concerning numbers, not just numbers. But people who are so ill that they require hospitalization," said Mary Beth Kingston, chief nursing officer for Advocate Aurora Health Care.
"While we see plenty of vaccinated individuals infected, the overwhelming majority of our COVID positive inpatients and the more severely affected inpatients are unvaccinated," said Dr. Jeff Bahr, chief medical group officer for Advocate Aurora.
Health system leaders said 92% of inpatients are either unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or due for a booster.
Pulmonologist Dr. Raul Mendoza says they cannot distinguish what variant patients have, and while the omicron variant can be a milder illness, it is still impacting the unvaccinated and immunocompromised people most.
"As you'll remember, we have now more tools to treat this condition, but there are not perfect. Still the mortality is quite high once you make it to the intensive care unit," Dr. Mendoza said.
Aurora Health Care recently paused services at 3 Milwaukee area urgent care sites to staff others in the area.
Dr. Bahr said they are working with Gov. Tony Evers and the state to meet community demand.
"We're not delaying cancer diagnoses, cancer treatment, or life-saving limb-saving surgeries and procedures. At the same time, we are postponing or delaying - not canceling but rescheduling - certain procedures to times and places where there is appropriate staffing and space and capacity," Dr. Bahr said.
Ascension Wisconsin reported as of Monday afternoon it has 255 hospitalized COVID patients, nearly triple what it had 8 weeks ago.
With the health care system so overwhelmed, health professionals encouraged people to consider their symptoms and condition when seeking testing and care.