• COVID-19

    Mayo Clinic Health System temporarily deferring elective care after surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations in Northwest Wisconsin

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. ― Mayo Clinic Health System hospitals in Northwest Wisconsin are experiencing dramatic increases in COVID-19 cases and are escalating hospital surge plans to respond to the growing pandemic in the region.

"We're facing a sobering reality in Eau Claire and surrounding communities," says Jason Craig, regional chair of administration, Northwest Wisconsin Region, Mayo Clinic Health System. "We're committed to our patients, staff and communities, and want to help ensure everyone's safety. To that end, we're being proactive by temporarily deferring elective care at our Northwest Wisconsin locations, effective Saturday, Oct. 31, so that we can care for the surge of urgent and emergent needs of our community, including the high influx of COVID-19-positive patients needing hospital care."

The rising number of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin cannot be attributed simply to increased testing. The percent of positive tests and number of hospitalized patients also have risen dramatically. For the past two weeks, tests are averaging above a 20% positivity rate and in excess of 100 positive tests daily at Mayo Clinic Health System test sites across the region. As of the morning of Friday, Oct. 30, 68 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19 at Mayo Clinic Health System hospitals in Northwest Wisconsin, including 52 in Eau Claire. In addition, more than 200 staff members are unable to come to work due to COVID-19 exposures and positivity.

"This situation is serious. We now are at risk of overwhelming our health care system," says Richard Helmers, M.D., regional vice president, Northwest Wisconsin Region, Mayo Clinic Health System. "We're sharing this transparently because we need everyone's help to slow down the spread. We know what works: avoiding medium and large gatherings, masking, social distancing and hand-washing."

Mayo Clinic Health System has taken multiple steps to accommodate the surge of patients with COVID-19 in Northwest Wisconsin, including offering remote monitoring for patients who require monitoring but are well enough to stay home; maximizing its new advanced care at home program, which allows some patients to receive complex, comprehensive care in their own homes; and bringing in extra staff from Mayo's other facilities, just as some Wisconsin nursing staff traveled to Mayo Clinic in Arizona when they were experiencing a surge.

"We remain in constant communication with our colleagues across Mayo Clinic to coordinate and provide the best health care options for our patients, including telemedicine," says Dr. Helmers.

Above all else, Dr. Helmers says health care professionals need everyone's help to stop the spread of COVID-19.

 "We are pleading with community members to comply with all recommended precautionary measures to help reduce transmission of the virus among our neighbors, friends and health care workers. We can do this, but we have to do it together," Dr. Helmers says.

Media contact:
Dan Lea 715-838-6405 lea.dan@mayo.edu

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Mayo Clinic Health System consists of clinics, hospitals and other facilities that serve the health care needs of people in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The community-based providers, paired with the resources and expertise of Mayo Clinic, enable patients in the region to receive highest-quality physical and virtual health care close to home.