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Milwaukee health systems deferring some elective procedures amid COVID-19 surge

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Posted at 9:40 AM, Dec 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-31 10:17:31-05

MILWAUKEE — Amid a surge in hospitalizations linked to COVID-19, three major health systems in the Milwaukee area are delaying some elective procedures.

So far Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin , Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center and Waukesha Memorial will be making those changes.

Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin said Thursday it has been forced to delay some deferrable surgical procedures that require beds in their hospitals.

The hospitals said in a statement that the majority of their COVID-19 admissions are patients who are unvaccinated, "and could have prevented their need for care if they had taken action earlier during the pandemic" with vaccines.

Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center and Waukesha Memorial will also be delaying some non-emergency and non-critical procedures due to the surge in COVID-19 cases, according to our partners at the Milwaukee Business Journal.

“At times, this has resulted in the need to pause or reschedule some non-critical or elective procedures, depending on local Covid case numbers, staffing scenarios and bed availability,” said Aurora St. Luke’s spokesman Adam Mesirow. “However, urgent and emergent services will continue to be available 24 hours a day, and it is critical that patients seek care when needed.”

“To manage inpatient capacity, ProHealth is continuing to postpone select elective surgeries that would require an inpatient stay,” spokeswoman Ann Dee Allen with ProHealth Care, which runs Waukesha Memorial Hospital and Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital.

Right now there are 434 people hospitalized in Milwaukee County with complications caused by COVID-19, the county's dashboard states. That number rises to more than 1,700 across Wisconsin, including more than 400 in ICU beds, according to the Wisconsin Hospital Association.

In early December, the president of Froedtert Hospital, Eric Conley, warned that "We are full. Period," in reference to their hospital's capacity. UW Health echoed that sentiment earlier this week, saying that their hospital is full and that the surge in hospitalizations is putting critically ill patients at risk with the lack of space and staff.

On Wednesday, Aurora Health told TMJ4 News that three of their facilities in the Milwaukee area are now temporarily closed, citing staffing shortages. Those facilities are the urgent care center on River Center Drive in Milwaukee, and the care centers in Menomonee Falls and Brookfield.

Wisconsin hasn't seen this many confirmed cases since December of 2020, recording a 7-day average of 3,869 on Tuesday. Both confirmed and probable deaths linked to COVID-19 have surpassed 10,000 in Wisconsin since the DHS began counting.

Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin added on Thursday that if you think you have been exposed to COVID, are experiencing symptoms and want to learn more about testing, you are encouraged to schedule an E-Visit on their website. They stress that COVID tests are not available at their hospitals. Tests can be received at their other locations in southeast Wisconsin.

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