HOW DO WE SAVE THE HOSPITALS?
Lake Geneva, Town of Linn, Fontana, Williams Bay, Elkhorn and so many more communities around Lake Geneva are dependent upon two main hospitals. Aside from the free clinic in Elkhorn and the Aurora clinics around the area, locals and visitors alike are dependent upon only two main hospitals. Those are Mercy, located at the intersection of Highways 50 and 67 on the far eastern outskirts of Delavan and Lakeland Hospital, located across from the county courthouse in eastern Elkhorn along Highway NN.
What’s happening at these institutions is not just limited to these two. It’s also happening at hospitals in Milwaukee and North Chicago. In fact, the VA hospitals in both of those places are also experiencing the underlying problem although, with the federal funding they receive, they’re relatively immune from the effects of the problem. What is the problem? Funding. Insurance companies, social security, and even those who come to a hospital and pay out of their own pocket are not paying their bills. They are not paying because patients are not showing up for treatment. The public it seems, and this effect was not predicted at all, is afraid to go to a hospital because of several unforeseen issues. The first is that they are afraid of getting the virus.
Both Mercy and Lakeland are set up to accept and treat virus patients. The public knows that. Why go to a place where the virus may be prevalent? Cases that automatically turned up in emergency rooms or were referred by private physicians have all but disappeared.
The second problem is caused by the effects of the virus itself. Most people who get the virus do not need hospitalizations and there are not enough virus patients, not in Walworth County, to fill the beds vacated by regular patients who are not showing up. The VA hospitals in Milwaukee and North Chicago are having identical problems with these two issues.
The third reason why patients are not showing up as they did before is because of new hospital rules installed to prevent the spread of the virus inside the hospitals. No visitors is the third problem, that and the human condition of not wanting to be alone when in dire straits or serious trouble. Patients do not want to go to these hospitals because they will have no advocates, no relatives, and no friends coming to visit them or bring flowers or anything else. People are deathly afraid of dying alone, of lying in a bed inside an institution where they know nobody and understand that their friends and relatives are probably all huddled out in the parking lot worried about them but unable to do anything but call staff to see how they are doing.
Lakeland has gone to half-staff and Mercy will be soon to follow unless things change. Hospitals are among the most expensive institutions to operate in this country. A place like Mercy Hospital takes about half a million dollars a month just to keep its doors open and offer minimal service. With the loss of revenue comes necessary cuts in expenses, staff, and operations of all sorts. If this combination of unforeseen circumstances and beliefs continue, along with the economic effects of the “stay-at-home” rules and social distancing, then residents and visitors might expect these two institutions to close at some date not too far into the future.
What would the county do without a hospital at all? It’s an hour drive to any other real hospital. Aurora clinics don’t even offer real pain drugs and don’t do major, or many times minor, surgery. There is trouble coming to the American culture in so many unforeseen ways from this reaction to the onset of the “novel” virus.