A Wyoming hospital is struggling to maintain its level of emergency care as the state recovers from an outbreak of coronavirus.
The Mayo Clinic Health System is struggling because of an acute shortage of orthopedists, which have to travel to the state for care, said Nancy Miller, vice president of the nonprofit foundation that manages the hospital.
The state also has a backlog of emergency-room cases, but Miller said the problem has been mitigated because of more than $100 million in federal money allocated for the state to address the pandemic.
The hospital, in the small town of Nederland, said in a statement that the situation is difficult and a long-term solution will be needed.
“We do not have enough doctors and we are understaffed and underfunded, but we do have doctors who are passionate about helping the patients in our care,” the statement said.
“We are in desperate need of additional physicians and we appreciate your prayers for our patients.”
In addition to having fewer doctors, Wyoming has a population of about 15,000 and has seen a dramatic increase in the number of cases.
The outbreak has prompted the closure of the state’s largest hospital, the University of Wyoming Medical Center in Casper, and a string of closures in the state, including the closing of the Nederlands Memorial Medical Center last week.
Wyoming’s chief public health official, Dr. Bill McDonough, told a news conference on Monday that the number one challenge facing the state is the shortage of surgeons.
The problem is not only the doctors who have left the state but the shortage is compounded by the fact that our population is growing so rapidly, and we need to have more doctors, he said.
Wyomans Chief Medical Officer, Dr: Bill McDonough.
He said the state will need to spend $400 million to hire a full-time orthopedist and another $200 million to open a clinic and treat about 100 patients.
“That’s the bottom line,” McDonop said.
“If we don’t get to the point where we can do that, then the system becomes unresponsive.”
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