MILWAUKEE — Advocate Aurora Health announced a new record number of COVID-19 patients in their hospitals across Wisconsin and Illinois on Wednesday.
During a press briefing, the health system reported 1,744 COVID-19 inpatients, and 674 of them are in Wisconsin.
Advocate Aurora health leaders said that on any given day they will have several hundred team members out with COVID-19.
Dr. Robert Citronberg, executive medical director of infectious disease and prevention at Advocate Aurora Health, said they are starting to see a leveling off of growth in cases, but the system remains strained.
"What we are trying to do is to utilize our staff. We're being creative in the way we deploy some of our staff. But the fact is that there are times when we don't have enough staff to carry out all of the activities in the hospital," Dr. Citronberg said.
The executive addressed a common question about the data surrounding how many patients are there because of COVID-19 versus those who are there for a different reason and test positive for COVID-19.
"The vast majority of people in our hospitals with COVID are there because they have COVID. All of our patients in our intensive care units with COVID are there because they have COVID," Dr. Citronburg said.
At a separate press conference, some front-line health care workers shared the challenges they face as the pandemic tests their endurance. They said more needs to be done. They joined democratic state lawmakers that are reintroducing the Healthcare Heroes Act to provide hazard pay and paid medical leave for front-line workers.
"A lot of CNAs that are working on the floor are very tired, and they're being overworked. We don't have enough staff right now," said Miguel Meza, a certified nursing assistant at Oakwood Village University Woods in Madison.
"We lose talented, respected, experienced nurses every single week because they cannot take the pressures of the job, the lack of protection and value for their lives, or the trauma," said Louise Nordstrom, a neonatal intensive care unit nurse at Meriter.
"The virus that is breaking down the doors of our hospital is breaking down any results that we have left to carry on," Nordstrom said.
"We don't know when this is gonna end," Meza said.