'Hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst': Hospitals plan for 'surge' of COVID-19 cases

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Posted at 6:38 PM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-01 22:06:50-04

MILWAUKEE — It's a matter of when, not if.

That's what local experts are saying about an expected surge of new COVID-19 cases in the state of Wisconsin.

Words many might not want to hear. A study from the University of Washington said Wisconsin could be several weeks away from a spike of new cases in the state around April 27.

Wisconsin medical professionals said they're doing all they can to be prepared if a surge does happen.

"Wisconsin hospitals are preparing, preparing, preparing. Hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst," said Dr. Mark Kaufman, Chief Medical Officer at the Wisconsin Hospital Association.

Kaufman describes the surge as a "wave" and believes it's unclear how big it will be when it arrives.

"Right now, we know there are more patients coming for sure but in terms of when the surge happens and how significant. It's unclear," Kaufman said.

Re-licensing retired medical personnel and fast-tracking out-of-state doctors and nurses are ways Kaufman said hospitals are working to keep staffing numbers up as the pandemic continues. They are also working to cancel or postpone elective surgeries.

Unlike the University of Washington study, Kaufman isn't putting a hard date on the surge's arrival.

"At least one month in Wisconsin. We know the surge is going to happen in the next month or two," he said.

Kaufman said all hospitals are working to increase beds by designating space, and some are even opening old-wards inside buildings to make room.

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