‘This time is really different’: Doctors worry over strained hospitals


GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) — Doctors have an urgent warning — the strain we are seeing in hospitals across the state is real and will only get worse.

“This time it really is different,” said Dr. Jeff Pothoff, an emergency physician for UW Health. “Last time it was about COVID volume, and now it’s not.”

Beds are filling up fast, and doctors say it’s not longer from just COVID-19 patients.

“Cancer diagnosis, cardiac emergencies, neurological emergencies. All these things are taking up hospital resources,” Dr. Pothof added.

He says hospitals are facing another challenge — staff burnout. “A lot of folks in health care, they hung it up. It was too much. It was too hard. They just saw too much,” he said.

Gov. Evers announced on Dec. 21 that FEMA support was headed to hospitals across the state, including Bellin. There is now a team of 20 from the U.S. Navy headed to the hospital. Bellin said they will work wherever they are needed.

“The deck is pretty stacked against us,” said Dr. Pothof. “We are at a position where we are starting to limit, and have been limiting for the last several weeks, the amount of non-urgent, non-emergent procedures we are doing.”

Dr. Pothof has another warning about what we could all soon face here in Wisconsin.

“People who would have made it, won’t make it,” he said. “And I’m just not sure folks are prepared for that reality.”

He adds what we are seeing unfold in our hospitals across the state is something we’ve never seen before.

“People not getting the medical care they need and suffering from the consequences from that and it’s not gonna matter whether you’re vaccinated or unvaccinated, it’s going to affect everyone,” Dr. Pothof said.

Latest state data shows bed usage in Northeast Wisconsin.
Latest state data shows bed usage in the Fox Valley.

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