As hospitals near capacity, healthcare workers plead for compliance

One Dodge County hospital is feeling the strain of fighting against a surge in COVID-19 cases while their staff members are also falling ill or forced to quarantine.

Across the state, hospital beds are filling up. 

The images on your screen are out of the UW-Madison’s COVID-19 treatment area. 

Wisconsin’s health care workers are battling a “relentless” surge in cases as described in a recent White House report. 

But there appears to be a full-on war against the virus happening in Dodge County. 

"I’ll tell you it is really hard to see the pain and the suffering of our patient and the anxiety and the stress and the exhaustion in the faces of our staff," said Angelia Foster, the chief administrative officer at the Marshfield Medical Center in Beaver Dam.

While it’s not the only county in the state listed as critically high, it is the county that is two-times the threshold to have critically high case activity. 

"We've had a thousand new cases in the last week, we’ve had 13 deaths in the last week," Foster said of Dodge County's case numbers. “80% of the people that are in our inpatient units are COVID positive.”

The hospital has cut back on services including elective surgeries to care for the surge in COVID-19 patients. But they are also dealing with staff shortages. She says they have 60% more work with 20 to 25% less staff who are out sick or have been exposed. 

"I wish people understood how hard this is on health care workers," she said.

Foster's spoken to other rural hospital administrators. She says if people don’t mask up and practice social distancing patients will have to be turned away. Something they do not want to see. 

"Strokes are still going to happen, heart attacks are still going to happen, cancer is still going to happen and we have to be in a position to care for those folks as well as COVID," she said.

With cases also rising across the country, she pleads that everyone does their part for their neighbors and for those on the frontlines. 

"There’s no one to send help. We’re in this with limited resources, trying to do the best we can to look after the community," she said.

Foster also asks people to rethink their Thanksgiving plans with cases being so high. 

Additionally, there are now 15 patients inside the alternate care facility at State Fair Park.

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