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Madison hospitals 'at capacity,' postpone certain non-emergency surgeries as virus surges

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Madison's hospitals are "at capacity" and will postpone certain non-emergency surgeries and procedures, the area's three largest hospitals said Thursday.

In a joint statement, the hospitals said a surge in coronavirus cases compounded by staffing shortages from health care workers getting infected have contributed to the decision to again postpone certain procedures.

As of Thursday, there were 179 patients in Dane County hospitals with COVID-19, which ties a previous high mark set in November 2020, the statement said, with expectations the number will grow.

"We are extremely short staffed right now," Dr. Jeff Pothof, UW Hospital's chief quality officer, said in the statement. "We’re doing our best to care for as many patients as we can, but the need is outpacing our capacity. With COVID cases rising and staff out because they’re awaiting test results or have tested positive, we’re hitting our limits."

UW Hospital, UnityPoint Health-Meriter and St. Mary's Hospital will reassess the decision to postpone non-emergency surgeries and procedures on a weekly basis, the statement said. Anyone affected by the postponement will be contacted by their respective health care system.

The hospitals urged the public to practice COVID-19 safety measures to prevent the situation from getting worse.

"We are asking our community to help keep our health care workers safe and healthy, by continuing to practice COVID-19 safety," Dr. Pam Wetzel, chief medical officer at UnityPoint Health-Meriter, said in the statement. "Continued spread of COVID-19 is preventable, we have the tools to stop the spread —masking, limiting gatherings and getting vaccinated and boosted."

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