WISCONSIN — Floating around all over Facebook and Twitter is the unsubstantiated claim that the only reason hospitals are struggling with bed space right is because hospital workers simply haven't been showing up to work.
"Folks will say it was the vaccine mandate for health care organizations [or] that we fired everyone," Dr. Jeff Pothof, emergency medicine physician and chief quality officer at UW Health, said. "Truth be told, it's much less than 1% of folks that were let go at UW Health. In fact, most of our staff were vaccinated before the mandate and for the most part, our health care workers are working overtime, putting in way more effort, way more time, not taking their breaks so that they can have an impact [and] so that they can save lives."
According to DHS data compiled by the Wisconsin Hospital Association, the state had 1,714 COVID-19 patients hospitalized statewide on Dec. 13, 2021 — the most during the entire pandemic — and while those numbers have fallen off slightly since, the curve's heading higher again this week. On Monday 80 more were hospitalized, bringing the total to 1,600
Out of 1,383 ICU beds statewide, only 184 were listed as "readily available."
While Dr. Pothof warned the situation in Wisconsin in the short-term could get worse, he added that more Wisconsinites can help health care workers and hospitals while protecting themselves and their loved ones by getting vaccinated, masking up and social distancing until the surge has passed.
"These folks are heroes— they haven't given up, they haven't quit yet," Dr. Pothof said. "We're just looking for a little help from the community."
You can watch the entire interview above.