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The pressure is real: Mile Bluff is stretched

Around November 17, Mile Bluff started seeing an increase of hospitalized patients (inpatients) within the medical center walls - with 5 to 8 patients consistently being positive for the Coronavirus. As numbers have continued to increase, Mile Bluff is now teetering on “full capacity” in the inpatient area.

For hospitals, inpatient capacity is determined by the severity, or level of illness, of each patient, and current resources, which mainly includes staffing. At this time, Mile Bluff is seeing sicker patients and experiencing staffing constraints. COVID positive inpatients take about double the resource time to care for. As care is provided, infectious disease processes must be followed in order to keep all patients and staff safe. The amount of care each COVID patient needs, limits the staff’s ability to care for more inpatients. Together, these factors are putting pressure on all areas of the organization.

To compound the situation, higher level healthcare facilities in the area are not accepting patient transfers. These organizations are also dealing with the lack of space, staff and supplies. With shortages and limitations across the state, Mile Bluff’s Emergency Department (ED) has been required to hold patients in the ED until a hospital room is available – whether at Mile Bluff or another facility. Because these patients cannot be transferred right away, they are staying in Mile Bluff’s ED, using valuable treatment rooms that are needed to care for other emergency patients.

Mile Bluff is also experiencing delays or no ability to transfer patients to post hospital care facilities (i.e. nursing homes, hospice, home healthcare, etc.). Not having this ability requires patients to stay in the hospital longer using very valuable space in the inpatient setting. Post hospital care facilities are not accepting patients because, they too, are dealing with a lack of staff. These facilities also have concerns about accepting COVID positive transfers into their vulnerable patient and resident populations.

“Our team is doing their BEST. They are thinking outside the box and going above and beyond to care for the patients that need our care,” said Mile Bluff President/CEO Dara Bartels. “To continue to provide the best care for our patients, we have made some adjustments to better equip the organization for success at this time.”

“We have made the decision to evaluate and postpone some elective (non-life threatening) surgeries that would have needed an inpatient bed for recovery. We have also postponed some outpatient elective treatments,” continued Bartels. “Doing this frees up our team to assist with the higher number of inpatients, and the complex patients and situations the ED is experiencing.”

During this time of high infection rates in our county and Wisconsin, you will experience visitor restrictions and mask requirements at Mile Bluff. These restrictions are put in place to reduce the potential for COVID-19 exposure for you and others.

When you need healthcare services, be mindful in selecting where to seek care. If you or someone you know are experiencing life-threatening situations, it is still best to call 9-1-1 or head to the local emergency department immediately.

If you are experiencing a sudden illness or injury that is not life-threatening, same-day care appointments are often available at Mile Bluff’s five area clinics throughout the week. You may be asked to travel to a different Mile Bluff location to receive care if your regular clinic does not have appointments available.

If you are unable to schedule an appointment or the clinic is closed, Urgent Care is available in Mauston from 3 to 10 pm on weeknights, and 9 am to 9 pm on weekends. Please visit for clinic and urgent care information.

As we work together through these times of higher healthcare needs, there are steps YOU, as an individual, can take to help fight the spread of COVID-19:

  • Get your COVID-19 vaccine or booster. Mile Bluff provides vaccines for everyone over the age of five. Visit to request an appointment.
  • Wear a cloth face covering or other medical facemask when you are in public, regardless of your vaccination status.
  • Maintain social distancing with those outside of your household
  • Maintain small social circles
  • Stay home if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or are sick
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water

“As we move through these stressful and unprecedented times, I ask for your understanding and patience,” said Bartels. “At Mile Bluff, we are committed to caring for you, your family, and your friends and neighbors to the best of our abilities. Be safe. Be well.”