Sunday, January 2, 2022

Sunday reading - how Wisconsin hospitals got pushed into this crisis

Great article from Adam Rogan at the Racine Journal-Times, who gives a stunning illustration of the cascading problems that are resulting due to Wisconsin hospitals being filled past the breaking point.

Here's the opening, which goes over how two younger adults in Southeastern Wisconsin couldn't get the care they wanted.
Kristine Coshun’s son Collin was on the floor, screaming, crying and vomiting repeatedly. There was nothing she could do.

Kristine and her husband took the 22-year-old from one Kenosha County hospital to another. But there weren’t any nurses or doctors available to take care of him. They ended up waiting more than 16 hours in the waiting room of Froedtert Pleasant Prairie Hospital. They never did see a doctor. A receptionist took vital signs of the others waiting to be admitted. Patients were being treated in hallways. During the 17th hour, Collin was admitted to a makeshift room. An IV was put in his arm. He was sent home 2 hours later. They still don’t know what’s wrong with him.

Brittany Palechek might have had a heart attack. A 29-year-old nurse who lives in Waterford, Palechek still doesn’t know if she actually had one. After sitting in the St. Luke’s Hospital waiting room in Milwaukee for 2 hours in nothing but a bathrobe with an IV in her arm, she ran out of patience, took the IV out on her own, and walked out.
Why is this happening? Rogan mentions reasons such as a lack of trained staff (due to a lack of pay and burnout from the huge caseloads of the last 2 years) and a lack of hospital space in general. But he also mentions that a big reason why is that COVID patients are taking up space that could be used for others in need of assistance that didn't have self-inflicted complications.
Since COVID patients typically spend weeks in the hospital, few rooms were being made available. Whenever a room was vacated, extra time had to be set aside for the rooms to be sanitized before another patient could be admitted.
And one other complication is that a lack of primary care and medical information leads people to head to the emergency rooms and urgent care facilities for issues that aren't that serious.
Kristine found herself getting enraged at people who entered the emergency room for non-emergent issues. She said she overheard someone complaining of a stubbed toe. At one point during the night, a man walked in and told the receptionist he had a burn on his leg. The receptionist, Kristine said, almost snapped at him, saying firmly: “You’re going to sit here 20 hours, they’re going to put burn cream and a bandage on you and send you home. Go to Walgreens. Go home.”
Let me quickly digress to another story about filled hospitals from this last week, this one happening in Texas.

In both Wisconsin and Texas, don't you think some of these problems would be cleared up if those states had simply expanded Medicaid to people just above the poverty line, which has led to more regular checkups and discovery/maintenance of medical issues, which lessens the chances of complications that end up putting people in the hospital and taking up beds.

And how many people in Wisconsin and other non-Medicaid expansion states are stuck in substandard jobs that don't allow them time off for minor illnesses and in access to allow for earlier and more frequent COVID testing? Having Medicaid coverage allows for more choice in jobs, and I bet some of those people in the hospital wouldn't have been there if they could have discovered and treated their ailments at an earlier time.

One other part from Rogan's article sticks with me, which comes from Kristine Coshun after she witnessed her son go through agony on a waiting room floor for 17 hours.
As the hours ticked by, Kristine remembers looking at her husband, Richard, and saying “Are we in a Third World country? Where are we? Is this even America?”

“It’s an overall sign of a broken health care system,” she said.
Why yes, it is a broken health care system Kristine. And you would have thought we'd have done more about it before this pandemic made it obvious to a whole lot of others.


  1. "In both Wisconsin and Texas, don't you think"

    There is the problem, many Republicans don't think anyore.

    Politicians can't get elected as a Republican if the Republican base believes they do think.

    It is a full onbible worshipping, science denying idiocracy.

    1. And that only ends when those cynical/stupid GOP politicans get booted because Independents and the "good" people who vote Republican say "ENOUGH!" Hasn't happened yet (at least not enough).

      It's really frustrating as a liberal in Madison, because all I can do is to try to vote out these GOP scumbags in statewide elections, give my money to other entities that operate outstate, and try to spread ideas here and in other places where hopefully some others will pick up on them and get some movement in the locations we need it.

      That doesn't mean I give up trying. HELL NO. But it does mean that a lot of this is up to the people who haven't had the gumption to make GOPs pay for their destructive arrogance.