SCWIHERC Hospitals See High Patient Volumes, Limited Resources – News Release


September 10, 2021

Hospitals in South Central Wisconsin see high patient volumes, limited resources
Hospitals seek community help to prevent COVID-19 cases putting critical strain on regional healthcare systems

Hospitals and healthcare facilities throughout southcentral Wisconsin are experiencing a high volume of inpatients, limiting hospital beds and putting a strain on resources.

This serious situation is occurring across the 14 counties of the South Central Wisconsin Healthcare Emergency Readiness Coalition, (SCWIHERC). Its member hospitals are asking for our communities’ help.

To better control the situation, the hospitals are urging everyone to continue being vigilant with COVID-19 safety measures, such as receiving any COVID-19 vaccine, masking, and physically distancing where appropriate.

This present high volume of patients spans across critical care areas of the hospitals, like intensive care units (ICU), general medical floors, and emergency departments. With resources stretched, it is becoming more difficult to receive care close to home if you may need it for COVID and non-COVID-related illnesses.

From July 28 to Sept. 1, the total number of COVID-19 hospitalizations increased four-fold in the South Central region. In that same timeframe, there were 5.5 times the number COVID-19 ICU hospitalizations. Many rural hospitals have no or limited ICU capability and are all reliant on the same limited ICU beds in larger cities, including Madison.

While the current high volume in healthcare facilities in the region is a mixture of COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients, a rise in preventable COVID-19 admissions is a driving factor. Preventing a further rise in COVID-19 admissions is our focus in this critical time.

In fact, COVID-19 infections requiring hospitalization are increasing at a similar rate to last winter’s surge. With students from pre-K through college returning to classrooms, the Labor Day holiday, and colder weather soon driving people indoors, additional increases are expected which could stretch resources to critical levels.

To receive a COVID-19 vaccine, please contact your local healthcare providers, or visit the state Department of Health Services vaccine webpage.


The South Central Wisconsin Healthcare Emergency Readiness Coalition (SCWIHERC) is a coalition that collaborates with 29 area hospitals and numerous other healthcare providers over 14 counties to prepare for and respond to emergencies in South Central Wisconsin.

SCWIHERC Members signing this message:

Organization Media Contact Name and Email (if provided)
South Central Wisconsin Healthcare Emergency Readiness Coalition Jennifer Behnke (
Aspirus Divine Savior Hospital and Clinics Haley Gilman (
Beloit Health System Megan Goggin (
Edgerton Hospital and Health Services  
Grant Regional Health Center  
Gundersen Health System Chris Stauffer (
Marshfield Medical Center – Beaver Dam Dan Baulch (
Memorial Hospital of Lafayette County and Primary Care Clinics  
Mercyhealth Rebecca Rose (
Mile Bluff Medical Center, Mauston  
Prairie Ridge Health  
Reedsburg Area Medical Center Robert Van Meeteren (
The Richland Hospital Lyle Kratochwill (
Sauk Prairie Healthcare Amy Ryan (
SSM Health Lisa Adams (
Southwest Health Jaime Collins (
Stoughton Health Laura Mays  (
UnityPoint Health – Meriter Nicole Aimone (
UW Health Andrew Hellpap (
Watertown Regional Medical Center Steve Hunt (
William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital Paul Rickert (



Infection Control Blog

This page is a pilot project of SCWIHERC and will be used to list all infection control/outbreak notices that SCWIHERC receives, including from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

All notices will be removed after 90 days unless SCWIHERC receives notice that the notice is ongoing.

Please send any feedback or questions to Jennifer Behnke

Ongoing- COVID-19 CDC and WI DHS pages
To receive SCWIHERC updates related to COVID-19, subscribe to our mailing list.

Ongoing- Weekly Respiratory Report from WI DHS

SCWIHERC Closed POD Workshop

Our Closed POD Workshop took place on September 26, thank you for making it a successful event!  The after action report can be found here:

If  you are looking for any of the resources presented at the workshop, or would like to begin planning our organization’s closed POD, please reach out to your local health department:

Adams County                           608-339-4505

Columbia County                     608-742-9227

Dodge County                           920-386-3670

Grant County                             608-723-6416

Green County                            608-328-9390

Iowa County                               608-930-9870

Jefferson County                     920-674-7275

Juneau County                          608-847-9373

Lafayette County                     608-776-4895

Madison/Dane County          608-266-4821

Marquette County                  608-297-3135

Richland County                       608-647-8821

Rock County                               608-757-5440

Sauk County                               608-355-3290

Watertown (City)                     920-262-8090

A Point of Dispensing (POD) is a site for mass medication distribution in the event of a public health emergency (such as an infectious disease outbreak, natural disaster, or act of terrorism). A closed POD is closed to the public and is sponsored by an agency to distribute medication to its employees and their families, and potentially the patients they serve.

Safer Prescribing of Opioids after Trauma and Surgery

SCWIHERC, SCRTAC, and many health departments throughout the state were recently awarded funds from the Public Health Crisis Response Grant from CDC to combat the opioid epidemic.  SCWIHERC and SCRTAC pooled our funds to support the development of an opioid prescribing continuing education series called SPOTS, Safer Prescribing of Opioids after Trauma and Surgery.  This series of seven collaborative learning sessions covers various topics on opioid prescribing.

Participants will receive free Opioid CME credit, and may either attend live or view recorded sessions online. Note that if you prescribe controlled substances, Wisconsin’s Medical Examining Board requires that you earn two CME credits on responsible opioid prescribing between 1/1/2018-1/1/2020.

More information and registration:

SCWIHERC Family Assistance Center Workshop

The SCWIHERC Family Assistance Center Workshop took place on April 4.  Thank you for attending!

The After Action Report and Improvement Plan is available here:

Resources mentioned at the workshop:


SCWIHERC Regional Pandemic Influenza Tabletop Exercise

Our regional pandemic influenza tabletop exercise took place on April 5 and was a great success!

The after action report is available here


Several resources mentioned during the exercise can be found on our links page.

The FEMA PrepTalk referenced during the exercise can be found here.

Join the coalition’s email distribution list here.

CMS Final Rule for Emergency Preparedness

CMS Final Rule for Emergency Preparedness was implemented November 16, 2016 and will be enforced starting November 16, 2017. The Final Rule applies to 17 provider types that receive funding from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Helpful information is available from the ASPR Tracie Website, including this helpful summary of what is required of these 17 provider types. On June 2, 2017, CMS released interpretive guidelines for the Final Rule, including their definition of a full scale exercise on page 59.

Emergency Preparedness Final Rule toolkits, resources, and templates

CMS Final Rule for Long-Term Care Powerpoint

WHEPP has put together some resources on emergency preparedness for long-term care facilities.

View the materials used to train CMS emergency preparedness surveyors

Regional Healthcare Emergency Evacuation Tabletop Exercise

Our regional exercise took place on Thursday, April 6.  Our focus was an emergency evacuation of a single facility (Tier 1) that escalated into an emergency evacuation of multiple facilities (Tier 2).  Attendees were be briefed on disaster tiers and the 2015 Wisconsin Hospital Surge Guidelines.  Attendees will  receive a generic evacuation template that may be tailored to meet the needs of their organization.  Participants who wish to conduct their own in-house functional or full-scale exercise may do so at their convenience.  We ask that lessons learned for in-house exercises be submitted to our exercise facilitator by Friday, June 2 to be integrated into our regional after action report and improvement plan.


Contact Jennifer Behnke with any questions