WISCONSIN— As Wisconsin continues to see rising coronavirus case numbers, the state is seeing an alarming downward trend in another critical area: Healthcare workers.
“Our hospitals are overwhelmed, our health care workers are exhausted, and too many families have lost a loved one. Wisconsin is at a critical juncture right now,” said Wisconsin Department of Health Services deputy secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk.
As of Nov. 12, a total of 13,170 healthcare workers in Wisconsin have tested positive for COVID-19. During the week of Nov. 1 alone, 740 healthcare workers in the state began experiencing symptoms and/or tested positive.
"What we have heard consistently from our hospitals is the biggest issue is staff. They have beds. They don't have staff," she says.
Willems Van Dijk says this is because many hospital staffs have high numbers of employees who are either sick or quarantining.
The DHS is looking into ways to hire people across state lines and has even reached out to Federal Emergency Management Agency to help offset the shortage of healthcare workers.
"We're getting to the point where hospitals are strained and are likely to run out of staff before they run out of physical space. So hospitals, when they can't accommodate... have to divert admissions to other hospitals or refuse transfers..." Dr. Ryan Westergaard says.
Some hospitals are unable to take ICU patients at this time. He says if this becomes widespread, some people needing emergency, hospital-level care may have nowhere to go.
For daily updates on coronavirus numbers in the state, click here.