EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) - A year ago, hospital care looked very different.
"It was a whole different world a year ago, you know, healthcare is stressful for our caregivers. In a normal environment, then when you add the pandemic on top of it a year ago, and really up to this, really, in the recent past year, it was very, very stressful," said Bill Priest, Chief Administrative Officer for Marshfield Medical Center-Eau Claire.
"We didn't know what to expect, what's going to happen, there was also realization of how much of an impact that's going to have on our ability to take care of patients and the possibility of being overwhelmed," commented Dr. Adel Zurob, Medical Director of Critical Care, Mayo Clinic Health System Northwest, WI.
"We know how to handle mass casualties, we know how to handle highly critical events, that's what we do as a hospital system. This was something we didn't know was going to unfold," said Jen Drayton, HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s Hospitals Chief Nursing Officer.
Now we do know. And now a year later, the Wisconsin Hospital Association is reporting the lowest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations since tracking began in April 2020. 186 hospitalizations were reported yesterday, a 92% drop since hospitalizations peaked in Wisconsin last November with over 2,000 statewide.
"Back in at the peak of this around November, so we would have over 100 patients in our region within our system that are hospitalized with COVID. About 10, give or take would be in the intensive care unit, most of them on ventilators," continued Dr. Zurob on the state of Mayo Clinic Health System Northwest, WI, "By comparison, now, we're in a much better place, you know, overall, we have roughly five to 10 in the system."
Sacred Heart Hospital said their beds are still full, not as many as a result of a COVID-19 diagnosis, but as a product of postponed care as a consequence of the pandemic.
"People didn't receive care, maybe didn't go out of their homes as much during the pandemic and delayed getting surgeries and having care," said Drayton.
Fear of returning to high COVID patient volume as coronavirus strains mutate, have local hospitals pleading for COVID vaccinations, "It's still out there. We're still seeing sick patients. Yes. It's not over running our system. Yes, it's we're able to function, right. But we don't even want one person to be in that position, or potentially lose their life when we have a vaccine that's very effective and very safe," said Dr. Zurob.
The CDC still requires masks to be worn at care centers like hospitals and clinics, visitor policies vary by hospital location.