Mayo Clinic hospitals at highest patient levels since 2020, La Crosse doctors say

Doctors say they're seeing high volumes of patients with COVID-19 and other illnesses

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — Mayo Clinic hospitals are treating a growing number of patients not vaccinated against COVID-19. The network’s intensive care units have operated at or near capacity for months, a Mayo Clinic Health System representatives.

Mayo Clinic Rochester is caring for 100 COVID-19 patients each day, officials say In Eau Claire, that number drops to 39, and in La Crosse, it’s about 12 patients a day. Rising hospitalizations are causing Mayo to make difficult decisions.

“Of course if a patient needs to be in the hospital, we’re not going to be getting them out of here if they still need care,” said Erin Morcomb, a family medicine doctor at Mayo. “But just really trying to prioritize who really needs to be cared for in the hospital or if they could be followed up outpatient closely.”

It’s not just COVID-19 but also other medical problems, too, at the La Crosse hospital, where COVID patients account for about 20 percent of the census.

Nonetheless, Morcomb said patient capacity is hitting levels at or above the peak of the pandemic last year. Vaccinated people can become infected with COVID-19. However, most patients who end up in the ICU for life-and-death levels of care are not vaccinated.

“By far and away the patients that have been severely and have needed especially ICU level type care have been unvaccinated,” Morcomb said. “I believe five to six times the amount versus vaccinated that have needed that high of a level of care.

Dr. Scott Rathgaber, CEO at Gundersen Health System, echoed the message Tuesday, saying Gundersen fills up from time to time. La Crosse avoided a heavy flu season last year because of higher mitigation practices in place at the time.

With restrictions loosened, doctors expect more flu illnesses this year. Masking. hand-washing and vaccinations remain the best solutions, they physicians say.

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