Madison hospitals eye UW Madison dorms as possible resource

Published: Mar. 24, 2020 at 10:32 PM CDT
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UW Health Hospital is working closely with SSM St. Mary's Hospital and Unity Point Meriter on their plans for a possible surge in coronavirus cases. Experts say it could happen within 10 days. Governor Tony Evers hopes to slow the spread by putting in place a

UW Health's Chief Quality Officer, Jeff Pothof has been working on a coronavirus response plan since the end of February. He says the case models in Italy, Seattle, and New York City are an indication as to what can happen if Wisconsinites do not take the 'Safe at Home' order seriously.

"Everyone is trying to do everything they can to make sure they are not Italy, just the stories,

," Pothof said.

Madison area hospitals have plans in place to expand beds within their facilities. Pothof says they have looked at spaces where they have extra space or rooms where two beds could fit instead of just one.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has put a plan into action to build temporary hospitals in New York City. Washington state has also began making temporary hospitals too.

Pothof says he hopes it doesn't come to that in Wisconsin.

UW Health Hospital can hold around 500 beds, and Wisconsin's Department of Health Services says Wisconsin has roughly 2,500 hospital beds across the state.

The hospitals in Madison have been in communication with the University of Wisconsin - Madison about possibly using their dorms in some capacity during a surge.

Pothof says it wouldn't be ideal to house patients in the dorms because they wouldn't have all their medical equipment easily on hand, but it's an option to possibly have healthcare workers stay in the dorms during a surge.

"Nothing is off the table at this point," Pothof says about the option of tapping UW Madison's dorms.


Pothof has reached out to staff that work in outpatient clinics where non-essential surgeries have been canceled due to coronavirus. "They have the skill to work with in-patients," Pothof says.

Instead of having to layoff staff, he says they can offer them work at the hospital to help give regular staff some periods of rest. This also includes ramping up staff in their call center to answer questions for UW Healths Coronavirus Hotline.

The hotline number is: (608) 720-5300 between the hours of 8am-11pm.

Symptoms of Covid 19 include:

- Fever

- Dry Cough

- Sore Throat

- Digestive Issues

- Loss of Appetitie

- Headache