A top executive with the Mayo Clinic Health System on Tuesday said that amid ongoing, high numbers of coronavirus-related hospitalizations and strained capacity, a number of beds were put in an ambulance garage.
Dr. Richard Helmers, regional vice president of the Mayo Clinic Health System in Northwest Wisconsin, told Fox News the situation is “fluid,” but there are times when all five hospitals in the health system are full.
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“With limited hospital beds available, we often need to keep patients in our emergency department longer than usual,” Helmers wrote in an email. “We have placed four emergency beds in our ambulance garage at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire to accommodate busy periods in the emergency department, and we have used these beds in the past week.”
The setup is not used for coronavirus patients, he said.
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“While this is not ideal, this is a clean, heated space where we are able to safely care for patients with less serious injuries or conditions,” he said. “We have additional space identified in a seating area inside the department where we can place beds if needed.”
The seating area is not a public area, he said.
Further, patients are separated by booths while waiting for care in the waiting room.
“Mayo Clinic Health System would like to assure the public that we remain open for emergency and trauma care, and patients who require emergency medical care should not hesitate to seek it,” Helmers concluded.
The comments follow news from almost two weeks ago that hospitals within the Mayo Clinic Health System in the northwest region of Wisconsin reached 100% capacity, local outlet WQOW reported. The Mayo Clinic Health System operates hospitals in Barron, Bloomer, Eau Claire, Osseo and Menomonie, per the outlet.
At the time, an estimated 50% of patients in intensive care units had COVID-19, while coronavirus patients occupied 40% of the system’s medical or surgical beds.
“The public urgently needs to treat COVID-19 as the health emergency it is to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed. We are pleading for everyone’s help to wear a mask and follow all public health guidelines to limit the spread of this disease,” hospital officials had said in a statement.
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Fox News’ Madeline Farber contributed to this report.