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Coronavirus: How Wisconsin Hospitals Are Handling The Outbreak

Chuck Quirmbach
The Children's Hospital of Wisconsin and Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa.

As of Thursday, Wisconsin has 155 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Hospitals in the Milwaukee area say they can still take in patients, but they worry about the number of cases possibly skyrocketing. So, some elective surgery is being delayed.

>>The Latest WUWM & NPR Coronavirus Coverage

The chief medical officer at the Wisconsin Hospital Association, Dr. Mark Kaufman, says emergency rooms are doing OK — as long as they are not overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients.

“Nothing has changed in the way of illnesses and injuries for which Wisconsin hospitals are treating patients. The issue with the coronavirus, COVID-19, is we generally don’t want patients concerned that they have COVID-19, with relatively mild or moderate symptoms, to go to the emergency room. What we want is to have them call their health care provider/physician and get instructions," he explains.

However, to prepare for a possible surge of COVID-19 cases, Kaufman says “more and more” hospitals are postponing or canceling many elective surgeries. Since "elective" is a broad category, he says not all elective surgeries are being canceled.

“What most hospitals and health systems are doing [is] having groups of clinicians going through the already scheduled procedures for the near future, and are deciding, based on the clinical nature of the need for this surgery, determining whether it’s appropriate to postpone it, cancel it, or not," he says.

For the time being, WUWM's Bubbler Talk is focusing on the coronavirus and its impact on the Milwaukee area. If you have a question, submit it below.


Chuck Quirmbach joined WUWM in August 2018. He focuses his longform stories on health, innovation, science, technology, transportation, utilities and business.