COVID-19 pressure on La Crosse hospitals falling, Wisconsin hospitalizations reach all time low

Vaccinations helping reduce stress on hospital capacity La Crosse healthcare leaders say

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – COVID-19 hospitalizations hit their lowest point during the pandemic.  The pressure on health care systems continues to fall as more people receive the COVID vaccination. Nearly half of all La Crosse County residents completed their vaccinations.

“I think it’s a testament to the community itself for taking things seriously,” Brad Weber said, operations manager for primary care at Mayo Clinic Health System.

Leaders in La Crosse healthcare remember a time when COVID-19 absorbed resources at levels never seen before.

“And even just a few months ago if you remember Christmas time,” Weber said.

That was the time Weber said nurses and doctors bailed water to keep their operation afloat.

“Yeah. It was an interesting time,” he said. “As we were waiting for vaccines to arrive and become a part of our tool kit if you will, for treatment and prevention, it was pretty hairy.”

Monday, statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations fell 92 percent from their peak less than seven months ago. On Nov. 17, 2020, statewide the high was 2,277 hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The Wisconsin Hospital Association said 186 people were hospitalized as of Monday.

Weber said Mayo Clinic Health System’s hospital rooms in La Crosse are no longer stressed with COVID-19 patients. The health system can now request a certain amount of vaccine on demand.

“We can ping the state and say we need x-amount of Pfizer, x-amount of Moderna, and a handful of Johnson and Johnson and we just get it – it’s much different,” Weber said.

Health experts remain cautious. Even though society has the green light to gather again, the pandemic is not over. Vaccinations, Weber said, helped stop the patient flood allowing healthcare capacity to return to levels its resources can handle.

“There’s no coincidence, that’s why we’re seeing COVID tamp down in our region,” Weber said.

In November last year, Gundersen Health System officials said COVID hospitalizations went from five to 70 systemwide in a couple of months. Two weeks ago, News 8 Now visited one Mayo Clinic Health System COVID ward that was once full of patients. It was completely empty.

La Crosse County sits six percent higher than the state average for the number of people with at least one vaccine dose as of June 1, 2021.