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Statewide COVID-19 surge continues to challenge hospitals

Posted at 10:27 PM, Nov 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-15 09:10:36-05

MILWAUKEE — More than 2,000 people across Wisconsin are hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the latest data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

In addition, Wisconsin broke the record for new daily case totals four separate times last week. Health workers say this trend is unsustainable.

"I think we’re in a really precarious situation right now," said Dr. Bradley Burmeister, an emergency physician at Bellin Health in Green Bay. "All of our trends are worsening and they are worsening relatively quickly. Our hospitals are all at—or very near—capacity.
We're busting at the seams right now. I think in the last few weeks we’ve doubled the number of people in the hospitals. And in another couple weeks, if we double people again, there’s no way that we’re going to be able to manage the health care for all of those people without significant support from the military or the government."

Dr. Burmeister is part of the Wisconsin Medical Society's COVID-19 task force, and he sees first hand the strain health workers face.

"I've heard numbers from colleagues across the state that their hospitals are either between one in four or one in three patients admitted right now have COVID-19," Dr. Burmeister said. "So that’s upwards of a 33 percent demand increase on our health system from this virus alone, and that's on top of doing colonoscopies, delivering babies."

He says they've come close to having to ask patients to continue their care at the Alternate Care Facility at State Fair Park. The latest state data shows 20 patients are being treated there.

In Milwaukee County, data shows 21.6 percent of hospital beds are in use for COVID-19 patients.

Jamie Lucas is the executive director of the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals. He says the demand is prompting some health workers to float or help out in different departments.

"I've talked to some radiology techs who have been trained to work as a nursing assistant now just because there’s care needed at the bedside," Lucas said.

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