Sauk Prairie Healthcare staff asks county to support COVID-19 prevention strategies

PRAIRIE DU SAC, Wis.– Doctors and nurses working at Sauk Prairie Healthcare sent a letter asking for help in the fight against COVID-19 to the community.

“Rural America really lagged behind COVID-19 in urban areas, but it has since caught up,” Dr. Nathan Grunewald said.

Grunewald, a surgeon and Chief Innovation Officer at Sauk Prairie Healthcare, said he and his coworkers fear the spread of COVID-19 will only get worse in Sauk County.

“If we look at the whole regional level, our concern is that the increasing positivity rate within our communities is skyrocketing,” Grunewald said.

Grunewald says the Sauk Prairie Hospital is looking for other places to send patients as bed capacity fills up.

“Things that in the past you came to the hospital and we fixed for you, we may struggle to do that,” Grunewald said.

Sauk Prairie Healthcare is calling on the county to publicly support COVID-19 prevention strategies, something the Sauk County Health Department has also been asking for.

COVID-19 Incident Commander Jeff Jelinek said  the health department focuses on educating residents, but only so much can be done.

“Our numbers continue to rise at an alarming rate,” Jelinek said. “The things that are so simple, but a lot of folks for some reason do not want to follow through.”

Sauk County Board of Supervisors Chairperson Tim McCumber said county leaders act as role models in the community.

“I think it’s good for them to make sure our community leaders are still vigilant with everything going on right now, especially by the fact we’re hearing a potential vaccine is coming out on the horizon,” McCumber said. “We can’t let our guard down at this time.”

McCumber said while the county respects and follows state orders, the county’s hands are tied when it comes to making its own stricter restrictions.

“We run into a very unique challenge… we have limitations with what we can do,” McCumber said. “Even if we could conceivably pass some magical order that’s going to be more prohibitive that the state’s, we still don’t have authority to go into the cities and enforce it.”

Back at the hospital, Grunewald said there’s still time to turn this trend around, but it needs to happen soon.

“The trajectory we’re on right now isn’t sustainable, and there’s a real risk of not just potentially getting COVID-19, but treating an illness that is curable because we simply don’t have space,” Grunewald said.

Doctors said prevention strategies will be especially important during the holiday season.