Mayo Clinic's northwest Wisconsin hospitals placing beds in ambulance garage, lobbies

To expand capacity at its northwest Wisconsin hospitals, Mayo Clinic Health System is placing beds in waiting rooms, surgical spaces and a heated parking garage, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.

The rush to boost bed capacity comes two weeks after the health system warned that 100 percent of its beds were occupied at its hospitals in northwest Wisconsin and more than three weeks after it began postponing elective care. 

Mayo Clinic's hospital in Eau Claire, Wis., set up four emergency beds with privacy curtains in an ambulance garage due to an influx of COVID-19 patients. The hospital said all four beds were filled Nov. 18, but haven't needed to be used since, according to WQOW.

Additionally, a surge at Mayo's hospital in Barron, Wis., forced it to move beds into a room designated for preparing patients for surgery. 

Mayo's surge plan also includes moving beds into lobbies, emergency room physician Sue Cullinan, MD, told Wisconsin Public Radio. 

Mayo said that although patients may be placed in different spaces, they are all equipped with the necessary supplies to safely care for patients. 

"We would never put them in any unsafe or unclean environment," Pam White, DNP, RN, chief nursing officer for Mayo Clinic Health System Northwestern Region, told WQOW. "It's very clean, it's warm, it's an environment that's not ideal and we wouldn't do this every day, but if you needed to be in there to receive the care, I would absolutely go there. It's a comfortable environment and temporary."

Mayo Clinic Health System has clinics, hospitals and other facilities across Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. 

More articles on patient flow: 
UW Medicine halts some surgeries 
61 hospitals postponing elective procedures amid the COVID-19 resurgence
COVID-19 surge forces Indiana hospital to divert ambulances for 2nd time in 20 years


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