An “unfortunate milestone” has been reached within Hospital Sisters Health System across Wisconsin and Illinois, officials said Friday.
A record 303 patients were hospitalized as of that day and being treated for COVID-19 in HSHS hospitals as compared with the previous high of 293 patients in November 2020, before a vaccine was available. These patients range from very young to elderly and include pregnant women.
In addition to record setting hospitalizations, HSHS reports seven COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours. Six of those seven patients were unvaccinated. There are also currently nine COVID-19 positive pediatric patients in HSHS hospitals.
“To say we are concerned and disheartened cannot begin to explain our frustration,” says Dr. Marc Shelton, SVP and chief clinical officer for HSHS. “HSHS was hopeful to have turned a corner when the vaccine became readily available, but we are now well over a year into vaccine availability and yet our hospitals have reached a new record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations primarily due to unvaccinated patients.”
As of Friday, Jan. 7, across HSHS Wisconsin and HSHS Illinois hospitals:
303 patients hospitalized
230 are unvaccinated (76%)
64 patients in the ICU
51 are unvaccinated (80%)
32 patients on ventilators
27 are unvaccinated (84%)
“Although our hospitals are stressed and at near-capacity almost daily, HSHS continues to provide care to any and all types of patients,” says Ken Nelson, chief nursing executive, HSHS Wisconsin. “No one should delay care, especially emergent, for fear of COVID-19 or overloading any health care entity.”
HSHS encourages you to find local vaccine and testing locations in your community; do not come to an HSHS emergency room or urgent care facility for a COVID-19 vaccine or test. Resources to provide these services to community members are unavailable, unless a person is admitted to the hospital and meets the requirements for vaccination.
HSHS hospitals are pleading with community members to get vaccinated; get boosted; stay home if you’re ill; and practice all safety measures including masking, social distancing and increased handwashing. Following these safety measures has been proven to slow the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. The vaccine has also been proven safe and effective at reducing serious illness and hospitalization.
“Our communities need your help immediately,” says Allison Paul, interim CEO and chief nursing officer at HSHS St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, IL. “Please, please reconsider getting vaccinated if you haven’t already received it. It will literally save lives; maybe your own or maybe someone you love.”
Cover: HSHS ST. Elizabeth’s’ Hospital in O’Fallon.