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Patient surge leads Watertown hospital to close urgent care to better staff ER
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WATERTOWN | PANDEMIC RESPONSE

Patient surge leads Watertown hospital to close urgent care to better staff ER

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SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital respiratory therapist Kristie Reilly enters a COVID-19 patient's room in the intensive care unit during a recent shift.

In another sign the delta variant surge of COVID-19 is challenging health care providers, Watertown Regional Medical Center said it is temporarily closing its urgent care so staff can assist in the emergency department.

“Due to a significant and sustained rise in Emergency Department patients (COVID and non-COVID related), we are temporarily reallocating resources from Urgent Care to the Emergency Department to help treat these patients in a more timely manner,” the hospital said Monday on its Facebook page in a response to a question about the announcement.

“We will continue to re-evaluate this temporary change so we can make sure we are providing our community with the level of care they need,” the hospital said.

As of Tuesday, 1,085 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 throughout Wisconsin. That’s down from 1,099 on Monday, which was the highest since early January. On Tuesday, 332 of the patients were in intensive care, down from 334 on Monday, the highest since early December, according to the Wisconsin Hospital Association.

The state on Tuesday reported 3,633 new cases of COVID-19, for a daily average of 2,967 cases, the highest since early January. Another 17 deaths were reported.

As of Sept. 15, 90.6% of hospital beds and 93.3% of ICU beds were in use statewide, for patients with COVID-19 and other conditions, according to the state Department of Health Services. More than half of hospitals said their ICUs were at peak capacity.

On Sept. 10, the South Central Wisconsin Healthcare Emergency Readiness Coalition urged the public to get vaccinated and protect against COVID-19 infections, saying the pandemic was putting a renewed strain on resources and limiting available hospital beds. Some hospitals have said staffing is strained.

“With resources stretched, it is becoming more difficult to receive care close to home if you may need it for COVID and non-COVID-related illnesses,” said the coalition, a group of hospitals across a 14-county region including Dane County.

As of Tuesday, 80 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Dane County, up from a daily average of 15 in early July but down from a recent high of 93 on Sept. 11 and the peak of 179 in mid-November.

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