It’s been more than a month since Watertown’s Urgent Care closed Sept. 20, and it could be another two weeks before it reopens, but nothing is certain.
Watertown Regional Medical Center Marketing and Communications Coordinator Steve Hunt said there is no specific timetable for reopening Urgent Care back to the public.
The reason for the closure last month was to find additional staff to help with the significant influx of patients coming to the emergency room.
“We are seeing a lot of people with respiratory illnesses coming into the emergency room,” Hunt said. “We are also seeing COVID-19 cases on the rise, but it’s not a trend at this point. We’re hoping with increased vaccinations the number of COVID-19 cases will fall in Watertown and the state.”
While influenza viruses spread year-round, most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
“It’s still early for the flu season to hit, but we are seeing some cases come into the emergency room,” Hunt said.
He encouraged all residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the flu. Hunt also asked individuals to not put off any medical procedures they may need.
“Emergency care is what the community needs right now and we just moved the pieces (from Urgent Care) to match that need,” Hunt said.
When the initial post went out of Urgent Care closing some Facebook users asked if the staffing shortage was due to a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for hospital staff.
He said there is no shortage of emergency room staff.
“We just want to make sure we have the right people in the right places,” Hunt said. “We are still encouraging all of our staff to become fully vaccinated, but it is not a requirement.”
It’s not clear how many hospital staff have chosen to receive the vaccine.
Hunt could also not say how many beds are at Watertown Regional Medical Center or what is capacity for the healthcare facility.
The state Department of Health Services reported 90.5% of hospital beds and 93.5% of ICU beds are in use.
“Our capacity changes from day-to-day,” he said. “We have people coming in and we have people being discharged. The numbers are always in flux. We still have large volumes of individuals coming to the emergency room. We encourage people in our community if they are struggling with a serious illnesses to come to the emergency room.”
Hunt asked individuals to try and get an appointment with his or her primary care provider.
“Primary care physicians are likely to see a person the same day as the appointment is made,” he said.
If individuals don’t have a primary care provider, they are urged to call 920-533-9762, but if people have an immediate need, they should call 911.
Any visit to the emergency department will result in an emergency department charge, however, primary care providers remain open. Watertown Regional Medical Center has primary care providers in Watertown, Waterloo, Johnson Creek, Lake Mills and Juneau.