EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) - In an effort to relieve their health care workers, a northwest hospital system is deferring elective procedures, comparing the Chippewa Valley to the original epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"What you saw on the news earlier this year and in the spring in places like New York City, that's happening in the Chippewa Valley right now," said Jason Craig, regional chair of administration.
On Friday afternoon, Mayo Clinic Health System officials said elective care is being postponed for the time being. While they don't have an exact end date at this time, they do expect it to be at least a month.
They gave examples like routine physicals and procedures like colonoscopies.
Richard Helmers, regional vice president for Mayo Clinic Health System, said this decision will allow them to free up beds and medical providers.
Craig added they currently have more than 70 COVID-19 positive patients in the northwest region of their system which includes hospitals in Barron, Bloomer, Eau Claire, Menomonie and Osseo. About 10 of those people are in the intensive care unit.
"Due to the severity of the hospitalized COVID patients, they are often in need of one-to-one care, which puts a further strain on our staff's ability to care for more patients. Additionally, those hospitalized patients for COVID-19 have an average length of stay two to three times longer than the average non-COVID patient in our facilities," Craig said.
They also have 230 staff members not working right now because they are positive for COVID-19 or a close contact to someone who has the virus.
Pam White, chief nursing officer, said they have brought in extra workers from Rochester, Minnesota and from Arizona to help with the workload in Eau Claire. Those workers are to aid in the intensive care unit, progressive care unit (a step between ICU and regular units) and medical/surgical units.
Mayo leaders continually stressed if you are in an emergency situation you should still seek care.
News 18 also reached out to Sacred Heart Hospital and Marshfield Clinic Health System about their elective procedures. Marshfield officials said they are still doing elective procedures and are assessing the situation on a day-to-day basis.
HSHS Sacred Heart sent us this statement:
"HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals continue to offer surgical procedures at this time and are taking all necessary steps to ensure patients are provided the care they need in the safest way possible. We continue to closely monitor the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on each of our communities and hospitals on a daily basis and we adjust operations as needed to ensure the health and safety of all our patients, providers and colleagues remain our top priority."