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Capacity at UW Health fine, doctor says it’s “unlikely” COVID-19 patients will be turned away

If needed, chief quality officer says, hospital will make more room for coronavirus patients
Published: Jul. 15, 2020 at 10:16 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - UW Health says it has not turned away anyone with COVID-19 due to capacity and that, currently, it has room to treat more patients.

Dr. Jeffrey Pothoff, the chief quality officer at UW Health, explained Wednesday, amid reports of hospital beds filling up in coronavirus hotspots like Texas and Florida.

While it has not yet seen an uptick in coronavirus hospitalizations, UW Health says it often lags behind an increase in the number of confirmed cases. The hospital is taking the possibility of a new surge into account in planning.

“If we were to get close to using all that capacity, that doesn’t mean that we would just stop taking COVID-positive patients. That means we would implement what we call our progressive plan,” Dr. Pothoff said, adding it would be “unlikely” that the hospital would ever turn someone away.

The plan, which doctors have not yet implemented, would seek to identify and transform non-COVID hospital spaces.

“If push came to shove and we were to see a large surge,” Dr. Pothoff said, “those are the decisions we’d make: not sending people home early or discharging them quickly but critically looking at what volume did we have scheduled to come into the hospital, that would take up a bed, that we might now need more urgently for a COVID-positive patient than for whatever procedure or service we were going to provide for that other patient.”

That could mean postponing a non-urgent surgery or procedure.

In the case that there “isn’t room despite activating the full extent of our plan,” Dr. Pothoff said he would be concerned about a compromised quality of care.

“From the practical perspective, we’ve got room, but that doesn’t mean that it’s okay for everyone to get COVID-19 and sick all at once because even the best-laid plans have an end point,” he said.

Copyright 2020 WMTV. All rights reserved.

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