Mayo Clinic Health System leader says staff is feeling burnout, but remains committed to patients

As hospitals admit more patients, staff who care for them are stretched thin in order to keep up
Mayo Clinic Health System

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – With 110 new COVID cases in La Crosse County Thursday, hospital professionals are stressed with COVID-19. It is the first time since Sept. 25 that positive cases in the county topped 100 in a single day.

Hospital professionals are the people the community relies on when their health needs attention. We’ve reported about the concern La Crosse hospital leaders have about having enough room for patients, and enough staff to take care of them.

“We have definitely seen an increase in our patient census,” said Kristine Jimenez, a patient care manager at Mayo Clinic Health System. “Our COVID patients, we’re seeing more.”

Hospitals in La Crosse can handle the increase in patients right now. In her 25 years in healthcare, Jimenez said her team at Mayo Clinic Health System can feel the wind beyond the eye of the storm.

“But we still do what we can and what we’ve been called to do,” Jimenez said.

Burnout is real for staff despite western Wisconsin hospital capacity hovering around 69 percent according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Hospital Capacity

Wisconsin DHS data shows hospital capacity in western Wisconsin at 69 percent Thursday. (Numbers expected to change)

Over on the east side of the state, things are much worse.

Hospital Capacity3

Hospital capacity on the east side of the state is at 90 percent according to DHS data Thursday.(Numbers expected to change)

Jimenez echoes the words describing this year as nothing they’ve experienced in healthcare.

“Those adjectives just [don’t] seem to do it justice,” she said.

She sees the work of every staff member in every specialty.

“It’s filled with great empathy and concern,” Jimenez said.

One important piece of medicine she said has been taken away from patients ironically for their safety.

“Having those loved ones present is so important in the healing process,” Jimenez said.

The hardest part for Jimenez’s team is telling family members of patients they can’t see their loved ones.

“It literally breaks our hearts,” Jimenez said.

The hiring process for new nurses has its own barricade.

“Their career trajectory has been postponed by up to a year because they can’t complete their clinicals,” Jimenez said.

Even though doctors and nurses wear the healthcare uniform, they still go home to their families.

“We’re still people,” she said.

What they see doesn’t leave their memory.

“When we get home at night we just say to our loved ones, ‘Just give me a minute,'” Jimenez said.

Kristine said her service is needed and it’s one she takes great pride in every second.

She doesn’t do it alone. Jimenez said her team keeps her spirits high.

“Hearing my staff say it’s gonna be okay,” Jimenez said.

Western Wisconsin’s ability to care for people hinges upon those with the passion and mental strength to handle the effects of this virus. Jimenez asks people to keep wearing their masks in public and follow the recommended guidelines.  She said those guidelines are there to keep more people out of the hospital.