Eighteen children were brought to the Children’s Wisconsin Milwaukee Hospital with injuries suffered when a driver plowed into parade-goers. Several remain in severe or critical condition, and an eight-year-old boy died tragically of his injuries Tuesday. As of Monday morning, the hospital was still treating seven victims.
Six people were killed when a suspect identified as Darrell E. Brooks, Jr. plowed into parade-goers. He has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.
Sources at Children’s Wisconsin report that when victims first started to be transported to the hospital, it did not have enough nurses or support staff to handle the sudden rush adequately.
“It was a nightmare,” expressed one nurse, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she is not authorized to speak on the record. “We just don’t have enough people and [supervisors] were frantically calling in everyone they could, but it wasn’t enough. We are taking care of everyone the best we can, but it’s hard.”
A high-ranking official at Children’s, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the hospital currently has hundreds of open positions and attributes much of the staffing shortage to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The Children’s Wisconsin website lists 239 open positions at its Milwaukee hospital and more than 450 across its campuses.
Earlier this fall, Children’s set a November 15 deadline for all staff members to be vaccinated against COVID and boasted of 90 percent compliance. In late October, children’s Wisconsin spokesman Andrew Brodzeller said that any employee who was not fully vaccinated by November 15 would be fired the following day.
“While we don’t want to lose a single team member, we recognize some small number may make the decision to not get vaccinated,” he elaborated.
The hospital system’s religious exemption requests were due Sept. 15, and The MacIver Institute reported that more than 70 percent were denied. On Oct. 14, Children’s was forced to close its Delafield clinic until the end of the year because of severe staffing shortages.
“This is because of the mandate,” one source said flatly. “People either quit because their exemptions were denied or didn’t even bother to apply. They just started looking for other jobs.”
This nursing shortage is not unique to Children’s, as hospitals across the country have reported significant staffing struggles since the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdowns. However, the issue seems to have been dramatically exacerbated once hospital systems began requiring employees to be vaccinated.
The American Hospital Association reported in September that the number of full-time hospital employees dropped by 4 percent this year. Still, thev cost of labor expenses for each patient has grown by 14 percent.