Hospitals Continue Safe Phase-in of Resumed Services

May 07, 2020

As many of the latest COVID-19 health care data trends continue to show improvement, hospitals and clinics across the state are continuing a gradual, safe restart of services and procedures that had been postponed during the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic. Amid this transition to resuming treatments, screenings and other necessary services, WHA is reinforcing the fact that Wisconsin’s nation-leading hospital and health care system features environments that are the safest places people can visit.

“There is a distressing impact coming from our state’s dealing with the pandemic – a perception from some who have seen pictures and stories from other states that Wisconsin’s hospitals are overrun or unsafe,” WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding said. “We hear from our members that patients continue to face fears caused by the pandemic and are sometimes putting off seeking treatment or even emergency care. We are taking every opportunity to dispel inaccurate perceptions of Wisconsin’s hospitals and clinics,”  Borgerding said.

Those efforts include working proactively with state elected officials to remind their social media audiences about Wisconsin’s safe and clean clinical environments. WHA has also held a dozen “virtual roundtable” online events, allowing hospital and health system leaders to share their challenges and experiences directly with their local elected officials (See story). In organizing the events, WHA staff are providing participants with this helpful one-page memo briefly summarizing health care’s actions during the pandemic and emphasizing how policymakers can support their community hospitals.

Badger Bounce Back Plan – Hospital Metrics Unveiled
The overall safety of the state’s hospital network is now included as part of measures Governor Tony Evers is using in his administration’s plan to gradually reopen the state’s businesses. Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services recently announced hospital-related metrics included in Governor’s “Badger Bounce Back” (BBB) plan. The State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) – the hub of state government’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic – consulted with WHA in developing the metrics.
 
The Governor’s plan requires six factors be satisfied before an initiation of a phased-in reopening. The hospital metrics announed May 5 by DHS include:
  • At least 95% of hospitals able to treat patients without “crisis care.”
  • At least 95% of hospitals affirm they can arrange for testing off all symptomatic clinical staff who treating patients.
  • A downward trend of COVID-19 cases among health care workers, as measured weekly.
“The new hospital metrics are balanced and reasonable for the purpose intended – affirming that Wisconsin hospitals are not in crisis mode as a result of COVID-19,” Borgerding said in a statement following the announcement of the new metrics. “The data will likely show that Wisconsin’s hospitals have been handling the impact of COVID-19 quite well.”
 
The “crisis care” metric utilizes the Institute of Medicine’s health care disaster planning guidelines, first described in 2009. Other metrics in the six-factor BBB plan include 14-day downward trends in both reported COVID- and influenza-like illnesses, as well as a downward trajectory in positive COVID-19 tests as a percentage of total tests, also over a 14-day period.
 
Contact WHA Vice President of Workforce and Clinical Practice Ann Zenk for more information about the hospital metrics.
 

This story originally appeared in the May 07, 2020 edition of WHA Newsletter