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Meriter staff help combat COVID-19 surge in neighboring Illinois

A team of respiratory therapists from Madison were sent to central Illinois.
Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 11:27 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 30, 2021 at 7:18 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Respiratory therapists from Madison’s UnityPoint Health – Meriter are temporarily helping combat a COVID-19 surge at partner hospitals in central Illinois.

Nicole Pedrick is one of three team members sent, as the Peoria area sees its highest number of hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic.

“They are just tired. It’s hard to come in and work these 12-hour shifts and hard to watch people suffer,” Pedrick said.

According to a release, there are more than 130 COVID-19 patients admitted for care, most are under age 70, at the three UnityPoint Health hospitals. There are three in the region: Methodist, Proctor, and Pekin. Meriter also sent additional ventilators to help with the response.

Meriter Emergency Preparedness Safety Manager Nathan Bubenzer said numbers remain stable in Dane Co., giving them the flexibility to send staff members to help.

“We know what they are going through, having been there ourselves,” he said.

As of Friday, only 38 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 in Dane Co., according to the latest data from Public Health Madison Dane Co.

“It’s nice to know from our perspective that we can provide help when someone else needs it within our UPH system, and that if we get a surge again and need that help, we can call on our other affiliates,” Bubenzer said.

The team is about halfway through a four-week stay in central Illinois.

“It’s physically demanding, emotionally demanding and they just needed a little extra boost of energy, morale and some help,” Pedrick said.

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