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Aspirus Home Medical Equipment team sees spike in oxygen needs

Oxygen Tanks.jpg
Oxygen tanks

While COVID case numbers are trending down in Wisconsin, Aspirus Health is noticing an increase in another statistic: the need for post-COVID care.

Pre-pandemic the Aspirus Home Medical Equipment team averaged about 20 patients a month that require oxygen use at home.

That number doubled in the early months of the pandemic.

Last month that number spiked to 172 new oxygen patients.

“Some of that might be COVID positive patients who are not sick enough to be hospitalized but are still struggling with respiratory issues so they go home with oxygen for support. Another piece of that is someone who has a chronic COPD illness or CHF where they become positive for COVID which then kind of throws them over a hump where they’re on long-term oxygen,” said Cindy Rider, Aspirus Vice President of Post-Acute Care.

Rider said some people are on oxygen short-term, others can be on it the rest of their lives.

She’s also notice with some COVID patients that they’ll be on oxygen while the infection is active, go off it, only to be put back on it days or weeks later.


“Some of these people could have avoided this long-term or exacerbation of their diagnosis by being vaccinated. I think overall, we’re seeing this long-term symptomology if they’re not vaccinated. It’s not easy going to a grocery store with an oxygen tank. It’s not easy. It’s a burden. It’s a burden I wouldn’t wish upon anybody,” said Rider.

Another struggle right now is getting the oxygen. There’s a shortage of the steel used to make the oxygen tanks.

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