20-member FEMA headed to overwhelmed Green Bay hospital

December 21, 2021 GMT

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A 20-member team from the U.S. Navy is headed to Green Bay’s Bellin Hospital to help the overwhelmed facility treat patients with COVID-19.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency dispatched the team to assist, Gov. Tony Evers announced Tuesday.

Wisconsin hospitals are struggling to keep up with a surge in COVID-19 patients while also dealing with staffing shortages. On Monday, there were 1,660 people hospitalized statewide due to the virus, with 424 of them in intensive care, according to the Wisconsin Hospital Association.

Nearly every intensive care bed — 96% — is in use in addition to 98% of intermediate care beds.

“The FEMA team will be essential to supporting our health care system in northeastern Wisconsin,” Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Karen Timberlake said.

Chris Woleske, president and CEO of Bellin Health, expressed thanks for the assistance, while also calling on the community to work on stopping the spread of COVID-19 by wearing masks and getting vaccinated.

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FEMA has been dispatching similar teams of nurses, doctors and other health care professionals to overwhelmed hospitals in other states across the country.

The seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin is 3,294, up from 1,891 two months ago. As of Monday, nearly 58% of all Wisconsin residents was fully vaccinated, according to the state health department.