“Just because there’s a pandemic doesn’t mean other medical conditions just stop,” Pogorelec said. “The consequences of not coming in can be quite severe, and even deadly. That was one of the things I hadn’t expected; everything just stopped.”
Leathers said St. Clare resumed elective procedures at full-force in August. Or at least, they tried to restart them.
“There were still a lot of patients, and there continues to be patients, that if it’s not urgent or emergent, they will still delay care with the concern of COVID,” Leathers said. “We’re always reassuring them, we are safe. But obviously, we can’t force them. If they want to wait a few months, if their primary’s OK with that, then we’re OK with that.”
Decker said the delay in care is especially noticeable in children. Though parents of young people are “rightfully” overprotective of their children, he said growing individuals need attention not just for physical health but overall wellness.
Pogolerec expressed concern over the potential impact more than a year without social stimulation can have on young people and the elderly. She said the potential cognitive loss should be monitored.
Chief Nursing Director Jennifer Culotta said St. Clare Hospital had the PPE it needed immediately because in January she asked staff to secure equipment. Leathers acknowledged that some people thought Culotta was overpreparing, but in March when the first patient was identified in Sauk County, Culotta said her room was full of people looking to find out the next steps.