COVID-19 Surge Causing Delays in Health Care Access

Wisconsin saw its highest level of COVID-19 hospitalizations this week since January 2021 according to the Wisconsin Hospital Association.


Similar surges are occurring throughout the Midwest and creating critical access issues. The need to care for COVID-19 patients in our communities continues to grow amid industry-wide staffing challenges.


Aspirus Health and many other systems are delaying non-emergent surgeries that would require a hospital stay because patient rooms are currently in high demand.


“When you need access to emergency care or care that requires an inpatient hospital bed, that care may be delayed or it might be harder to come by,” said Robin Rudie, Aspirus Wausau Hospital Emergency Department Director. “We might be asking you to consider transferring to another hospital location in our system to get a bed.”


Wisconsin surpassed New Hampshire for the most COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people on December 14 according to The New York Times.


Contributing to the current surge is the fact that the majority of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 continue to be unvaccinated.


As of December 17, 106 of the 137 patients in the Aspirus system hospitalized for COVID-19 were not fully vaccinated. Over 90% of the 43 COVID-19 ICU patients are not fully vaccinated.  


“I’ve been a nurse for 20 years. I’ve been at Aspirus for 22 years and this has been by far the hardest two years of my career,” Rudie said.


Patients are still encouraged to seek medical attention if they need care but should be prepared to wait for non-emergent needs.


Aspirus and health systems throughout the region have implemented vaccination programs for their employees to create the safest environment possible within their facilities.


“The staff are committed. They’re here. They’re ready to continue to keep serving our community, but we do need our communities’ help,” Rudie said. “We do need help encouraging people to mask in public places, encouraging people to get vaccinated, or get the booster when it’s available to them.”


COVID-19 vaccinations are available through Aspirus Health and numerous pharmacies in our communities. Boosters or initial vaccination series can be scheduled through Aspirus using the MyAspirus online patient portal or mobile app. Appointments are also available by calling the Aspirus COVID-19 Call Center at 844-568-0701 or 715-843-1454. The Call Center has been experiencing high call volumes, so community members are encouraged to use MyAspirus for convenience.