As Hospital Beds Continue to Fill Up, Aspirus Looks to More Home Care Options to Free Up Space

Nov 18, 2020

Between its hospitals in the U.P. and northern Wisconsin, Aspirus has more than 130 COVID-19 patients.  That’s on top of the hundreds of other patients it has for everyday illnesses and accidents.

Aspirus President and CEO Matt Heywood gives an update on the healthcare system's COVID-19 response.
Credit Aspirus

Aspirus President and CEO Matt Heywood says they haven’t had to turn people away for emergency care but it’s running low on room.

“You can’t build more beds, but even if you could you need staff and staff is in limited supply across the country,” said Heywood.

Aspirus spent months building up its staff for this very scenario.

But the problem is the staff live in our communities, our communities that are now experiencing widespread community spread.

“It is a challenge when you have this much community spread to make sure our staff are not getting sick as well and they’re able to come and they’re able to come in and serve the patients we’re talking about.”

Right now, Aspirus has about 300 patients out system-wide. These are employees who have either tested positive for COVID-19, are showing symptoms of the virus, or are out sick with some other illness.

While Aspirus is utilizing the staff it does have to the best of their ability, Heywood said they’re now turning to technology to treat COVID-19 patients outside the hospital when it can.

“We’re going to call upon our community and their loved ones to help us care for our patients,” said Heywood. “If we can send you home and your loved ones and your home health can follow up with you, we’re going to look at new and different ways to care for patients so we can keep our beds available for the sickest of the sick.”

According to Wisconsin data, there are only 67 hospital beds immediately available in the North Central Region of the state as of Wednesday afternoon. Hospitals in our region are at 97 percent capacity.

Heywood and health officials are urging people to wear masks, social distances, and limit your interactions to people within your household.

“This is something that we would ask that you consider that you can help yourself, your family and the loved one in your community by being a little bit more safe, and a little bit more cognizant of the dangers that we’re facing over the next few months,” said Heywood.

Heywood said there is light at the end of the tunnel, but we need to focus on today to get there.