BEAVER DAM, Wis. - This week, our nation hit a milestone in the fight against the coronavirus — 500,000 people have died across the country.
Last fall, staff at the Marshfield Medical Center in Beaver Dam said the loss of life they were experiencing was almost too much to handle.
The chief administrative officer spoke with FOX6 about this past year’s trials and their hope for the future.
"It was just unbearable," CAO Angelia Foster said.
In a county of 88,000 people, everybody knows somebody who has passed from COVID.
At this rural hospital, staff quickly found themselves overwhelmed with virus patients.
"Locally it led us to ask for resources from the Department of Defense," Foster said. "And we had Department of Defense resources here for four weeks."
Even staff weren't immune from the virus.
"At one point in time we had 24% of our employees out with COVID or for close contact with COVID," she said.
Fast forward two and a half months, the nation has hit a pandemic milestone: 500,000 people dead from infection.
The related trauma from fighting this off, staff says can be felt and seen.
"The PTSD, there is trauma and stress related to what we saw last October, November, and December," she said.
Counselors have been made available to help staff cope, but for some, stepping away is the healthiest option.
"I think the long-term effects of this to healthcare are challenging," Foster said. "We have lots of folks who are close to retirement who may make the decision, ‘this is enough, the last year has been hard, and i’m ready to be done.'"
However, it's not all bad news...
"This team here is remarkable," she said. "They have survived the firestorm. They managed to take care of their family, and their friends, in this community."
In a display of medical practice and tenacity that can only describe as a miracle, the staff has come out on the other side of the pandemic — and are better for having done so.
"We now know how we would manage to manage our way through it – so the team is recovering," she said. "We are so optimistic for what comes next. We have survived – not only survived but we have thrived."
Hospital staff say that they have administered more than 2,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine. And as soon as they get more in stock, they will continue setting up appointments.