RACINE — Not even a heart attack will stop some people from watching the Green Bay Packers play.
They’ll wait out the chest pains until the end of the game, then come to the emergency room at Wheaton Franciscan-All Saints hospital, 3801 Spring St., “in the throes of a full-blown heart attack,” said Dr. David Galbis-Reig.
“You can pretty much watch the game in the emergency room. So it’s kind of amazing to me that people wait, but I guess it’s priority,” said Galbis-Reig, director of medical services for the inpatient mental health unit. “People bleed green and gold here.”
That deep-seated loyalty to the Packers means bars aren’t the only places bustling on game day, which affects area service providers including the hospital and the sewage utility.
Game day packs a one-two punch for the All Saints emergency room, which is a ghost town during the game and gets busy afterward.
The best time to make a hospital visit is during the 5-hour window from about an hour before the game to an hour afterward, said Galbis-Reig.
“People don’t go to the hospital during a Packers game,” he said. “So even if they’re sick, they wait until after the game.”
Then the hospital sees a sharp uptick in visits, including more people than usual who have been drinking heavily. Those patients may receive a substance abuse intervention.
People may not know how many drinks they can safely have, especially in Wisconsin, Galbis-Reig said. The limit is a maximum of four drinks for men in a single episode within 24 hours, or three drinks for women, he said. One drink is considered 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor.
“The bottom line is, it’s not a lot,” he said.
Heavy drinking can also lead to injuries that send people to the hospital, whether from fights or drunken driving.
The big flush
Of course, even when it doesn’t lead to a hospital visit, all that drinking means more work for another institution — the sewer utility.
Since Racine has a relatively large wastewater plant, it doesn’t have a problem on game days, said Keith Haas, general manager of Racine’s Water and Wastewater Utility. Mornings are its busiest time.
But, Haas said, imagine what would happen if 60,000 people all took a halftime break at Lambeau Field.
Luckily it’s built for it.
“They’ve got two underground storage tanks that hold quite a bit of fluid during game day,” said Pat Wescott, director of operations for the Green Bay Metropolitan Sewerage District. Smaller pipes than usual take the waste to the utility, so instead of getting overwhelmed, “it gets trickled in.”
Which is, so to speak, a relief.