Tomah Health has suspended its Urgent Care beginning Jan. 1 due to extremely high patient demand caused in part to large numbers of COVID patient visits.
Tomah Health Emergency Services Director Suzanne Downing DNP, RN said the suspension of Urgent Care services will allow staff to provide care to an extremely high number of emergency department cases. “We continue to see record numbers in our Emergency Department which has put a strain on the care provided to emergency patients,” Downing said. “The record patient volumes are a mix of illnesses including COVID patients who are coming into our Emergency Department,” she said.
Urgent Care is normally provided to patients with non-life threatening illnesses or injuries from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week without an appointment. “Because of the extremely high patient volumes we are suspending our Urgent Care to allow staff to focus on emergency cases,” Downing explained. She said the Emergency Department has experienced more than 90 patients per day lately.
Downing is unsure how long the Urgent Care suspension will last.
In the meantime, Downing said patients with minor injuries or illnesses can be seen at the hospital’s Warrens Clinic, which continues to see patients Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Patients can schedule an appointment by contacting the Warrens Clinic located just off Interstate 94 on Cty. Highway EW at 101 Unity Drive at (608)377-8792.
Tomah Health has been dealing with the challenge of finding available ICU beds in light of shortages across the state caused in part to rising COVID cases.
Hospital Chief Nursing Officer Tracy Myhre MSN, RN, said the critical access hospital provides emergency and urgent care but not an ICU unit, which has been challenging. “When we have patients who require ICU level of care, we look to tertiary centers throughout the state to take those patients. We have seen an increase in patients that are requiring ICU care and are having a difficult time finding ICU beds; but we are adapting to the situation.”
Myhre, who is also the incident commander of the hospital’s Emergency Response team during the COVID pandemic, said the situation has resulted in additional wait times and changes in patient transfer patterns meaning patients may be sent further away than normal.
Myhre said the patient situation in Tomah is a result of multiple issues including rising COVID cases and people who have put off regular health care visits and screenings and now require additional health care services. “People who are coming in are more acutely ill, which then requires more hospitalization.”