Southeastern Wisconsin hospitals still have ICU, ventilator capacity

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While at least one health system in southeastern Wisconsin saw a spike in admissions of COVID-19 patients on Tuesday, hospitals across the region have not yet exceeded their ICU bed or ventilator capacity. 

Health systems in southeastern Wisconsin have a total of 222 available ICU beds, and 1,181 available non-ICU beds as of Tuesday, according to Wisconsin Hospital Association data. The region has 488 ventilators available across health systems, with 222 currently in use.  

Dr. John Raymond, president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin, reported that hospital capacity data for the first time during Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce’s daily briefings. 

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On Monday, Raymond said one of the key benchmarks the state will need to meet before it can reopen the economy is that hospitals have the ability to treat all patients requiring hospitalization without resorting to crisis standards. In preparation for a surge in patients, hospitals have suspended non-emergency surgeries and repurposed unused areas of their facilities to create more bed capacity. 

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in southeastern Wisconsin rose by 13 to a total of 350 patients on Tuesday. Among those, 131 patients are in the ICU. Raymond said at least one hospital system in the region reported on Tuesday having their highest number of COVID-19 patients so far. He did not name the system.

Several projections indicated Wisconsin would see its peak of hospitalizations and deaths this week. One model suggested the state’s peak would have been on Sunday. 

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On Tuesday, the state had a 8.5% growth rate in new COVID-19 cases, while Milwaukee reported an 8.2% growth rate, according to MCW data. That’s compared to growth rates of about 30% three weeks ago, when MCW first began tracking the data.

In order to reopen the economy, Raymond said he state needs to see a sustained reduction in cases for 14 days.

Another benchmark the state needs to meet, Raymond said, is having adequate PPE (personal protective equipment) available for all workers exposed to the public. According to WHA data, there are 14 hospitals in southeastern Wisconsin with less than a 7-day supply of N95 masks, and 10 hospitals in the region with less than 7-day supply of face shields. A 7-day supply is the minimal acceptable supply under normal circumstances, Raymond said.

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