Madison hospitals say they may limit non-emergency procedures as COVID hospitalizations spike

MADISON, Wis. — Madison hospitals say they may have to start limiting non-emergency procedures as the COVID-19 pandemic gets worse and more people are hospitalized.

In a joint release, UW Health, SSM Health and UnityPoint Health-Meriter say they are assessing their schedules for non-emergency and non-urgent procedures and surgeries, and some procedures may need to be postponed or rescheduled if COVID-19 hospitalizations increase further.

Those affected will be contacted directly.

Procedures like c-sections, appendectomies, bone fracture repair and other emergency surgeries will still continue at all three hospitals.

The hospitals say this will allow more staff, hospital beds and other resources remain available for the growing number of COVID-19 patients they’re seeing.

As of Thursday, state data showed hospitals in the South Central region of Wisconsin, which includes Dane County, at 81% capacity. The region saw an 11% increase in the amount of COVID patients hospitalized on Thursday, with a total of 119 people in the region hospitalized.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi urged residents to follow public health guidelines to prevent hospitals from reaching full capacity.

“We are in the full throes of a public health crisis,” Parisi said in a statement Friday. “This is placing an enormous demand – and risk – on our entire health care system: nurses, doctors and public safety officials. They are making great sacrifices right now in difficult, scary, and often lonely situations. They have families to go home to as well. We all need to come together to do all we can to ease what I fear could be an overwhelming burden on the folks we rely upon for medical care when we need it most.”

The hospitals say they’ll continue to reassess their procedure schedules as the situation with the pandemic develops. In the meantime, they are urging everyone in the community to support them by wearing face coverings, physically distancing from others and consistently washing their hands to contain the spread of the virus.