Wisconsin hospitals wait-list patients, cancel surgeries as COVID-19 cases surge

Several Wisconsin hospitals are implementing waitlists for patients, canceling surgeries or transferring patients due to capacity constraints amid the state's surge in coronavirus-related hospitalizations, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Hospitals in Wisconsin's Green Bay, Wausau and Fox Valley areas are particularly hard-hit as they are among the state's latest COVID-19 hot spots. 

The number of patients hospitalized in Wisconsin due to the virus reached a new high Sept. 29, with 646 coronavirus patients hospitalized, including 205 patients in the intensive care unit.

As a result of the surge in cases, Wausau-based Aspirus said it has resorted to using a waitlist for patients. Matthew Heywood, president and CEO of Aspirus, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the number of people on the waitlist fluctuates and the wait can range from a few hours to 24 hours or longer. 

In addition, four local hospitals in Green Bay are nearing capacity amid a COVID-19 surge, Paul Casey, MD, the medical director of the emergency department at Green Bay-based Bellin Hospital, told Newsweek. As of Sept. 29, the hospital is at 94 percent capacity.

As a result of the capacity constraints, the hospital has adjusted some surgical times for cardiac patients and had non-cardiac patients that would typically head to the ICU after surgery move to other units.

"The second wave is here, and it is here with a vengeance. All four Green Bay hospitals are close to capacity," a Sept. 25 Facebook post from Dr. Casey reads. 

Additionally, several Fox Valley-area hospitals warn they are reaching capacity, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Appleton-based ThedaCare, which is in Wisconsin's Fox Valley, said it has exceeded capacity in its COVID-19 unit and has begun sending patients to hospitals in other cities such as Neenah, Berlin, Shawano and Waupaca. 

"Yes, we saw this coming but didn't expect it to be quite so rapid," Michael Hooker, MD, vice president and CMO for acute care at ThedaCare, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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