Hospitals review emergency preparedness plans in light of COVID-19

How safe are Wisconsin hospitals?
Posted at 7:32 PM, Mar 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-12 20:33:04-04

Every hospital in Wisconsin already has an emergency preparedness plan. Hospitals are reviewing their plans in case we see a dramatic surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in our state.

"Nobody knows what the Coronavirus is going to do in the next weeks or months. We have about 10,000 beds in the state with an average occupancy rate of about 58 percent, but that obviously varies," said Doctor Mark Kaufman, the Chief Medical with The Wisconsin Hospital Association.

With cases increasing daily around the country, hospitals in our state are thinking about staff and capacity and also screening visitors and reviewing protocols for handling infected patients.

"So the number one advice is really prepare and review and plan ahead," Doctor Kaufman said.

Doctor Kaufman says hospitals have access to a state run database where healthcare workers can update their supply or staffing status.

"That way, everyone can see what's going on around the state and really think critically about the next few weeks and the next month in terms of beds, in terms of supplies, in terms of staffing," he said.

Hospitals are also sharing best practices with one another and tracking the pace of the virus closely. If a massive influx of COVID-19 patients occurs, Kaufman explained there are other resources throughout the state ready to respond.

"There are seven regional, or what are called HERCs, healthcare emergency readiness coalitions in Wisconsin. Their purpose is to coordinate among hospitals within those regions," he continued.

The healthcare emergency readiness coalition in Southeast Wisconsin is made up dozens of agencies including police, fire and other community groups.

Kaufman stresses we all play a role in curbing the spread and potential strain on our hospitals.

"We can all have an impact to really blunt the rise of new cases. If we do that well, that will really make it easier for the health care system to appropriately apply the resources and to have enough resources for those unfortunate individuals that do have to be hospitalized with COVID-19," he said.

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