Springfield, IL –An unfortunate milestone has been reached within Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) across Wisconsin and Illinois; A record 303 patients are currently hospitalized and being treated for COVID-19 in HSHS hospitals as compared with the previous high of 293 patients in November 2020, before a vaccine was available. These patients range from very young to elderly and include pregnant women.

In addition to record setting hospitalizations, HSHS reports seven COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours. Six of those seven patients were unvaccinated. There are also currently nine COVID-19 positive pediatric patients in HSHS hospitals.

“To say we are concerned and disheartened cannot begin to explain our frustration,” says Dr. Marc Shelton, SVP and chief clinical officer for HSHS. “HSHS was hopeful to have turned a corner when the vaccine became readily available, but we are now well over a year into vaccine availability and yet our hospitals have reached a new record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations primarily due to unvaccinated patients.”

As of today, Jan. 7, across HSHS Wisconsin and HSHS Illinois hospitals:

303 patients hospitalized

230 are unvaccinated (76%)

64 patients in the ICU

51 are unvaccinated (80%)

32 patients on ventilators

27 are unvaccinated (84%)

“Although our hospitals are stressed and at near-capacity almost daily, HSHS continues to provide care to any and all types of patients,” says Ken Nelson, chief nursing executive, HSHS Wisconsin. “No one should delay care, especially emergent, for fear of COVID-19 or overloading any health care entity.”

HSHS encourages you to find local vaccine and testing locations in your community; do not come to an HSHS emergency room or urgent care facility for a COVID-19 vaccine or test. Resources to provide these services to community members are unavailable, unless a person is admitted to the hospital and meets the requirements for vaccination.

HSHS hospitals are pleading with community members to get vaccinated; get boosted; stay home if you’re ill; and practice all safety measures including masking, social distancing and increased handwashing. Following these safety measures has been proven to slow the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. The vaccine has also been proven safe and effective at reducing serious illness and hospitalization.

“Our communities need your help immediately,” says Allison Paul, interim CEO and chief nursing officer at HSHS St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, IL. “Please, please reconsider getting vaccinated if you haven’t already received it. It will literally save lives; maybe your own or maybe someone you love.”

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About HSHS Medical Group

HSHS Medical Group is the physician organization of Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS). Launched in 2009, HSHS Medical Group is a critical component of the HSHS Care Integration strategy, which focuses on bringing physicians, technology and patients together to improve the overall health of our communities. Today, HSHS Medical Group is comprised of over 1,300 colleagues in locations throughout Central and Southern Illinois. HSHS Medical Group is powered by the Franciscan history of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, and our faith-based identity led us to the single most important tenet of the HSHS Medical Group philosophy — patient-first care. For more information about HSHS Medical Group, visit HSHSMedicalGroup.org.

About Hospital Sisters Health System

Hospital Sisters Health System’s (HSHS) mission is to reveal and embody Christ’s healing love for all people through our high-quality Franciscan health care ministry. HSHS provides state-of-the-art health care to our patients and is dedicated to serving all people, especially the most vulnerable, at each of our physician practices and 15 local hospitals in two states – Illinois (Breese, Decatur, Effingham, Greenville, Highland, Litchfield, O’Fallon, Shelbyville and Springfield) and Wisconsin (Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Oconto Falls, Sheboygan and two in Green Bay). HSHS is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, and Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the founding institute. For more information about HSHS, visit www.hshs.org. For more information about Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, visit www.hospitalsisters.org.