WHA President says COVID-19 is not stressing state health care system

Wisconsin Hospital Association President Eric Borgerding says COVID-19 is not stressing the state’s health care system, though WHA isn’t weighing in on when the economic reopening should begin.

“COVID-19 continues not to stress the health care system in any really urgent or significant way,” Borgerding said today during a call hosted by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. 

He acknowledged “little mini surges” in regions of the state have translated into a temporary increase in hospitalizations, but said Wisconsin’s health system overall has enough capacity for the foreseeable future. 

Borgerding said Wisconsin hospitals should have no trouble meeting the recently announced gating metrics for the Badger Bounce Back plan, though DHS says data to measure these criteria are still being collected and will be available later this week. 

“For a hospital to be deemed in crisis, it’s a pretty high bar,” he said. “We have not seen anything near approaching the standards set forth in that new crisis care metric. That’s very positive.” 

He said WHA is “very comfortable” with both of the new metrics, which relate to hospitals operating under established crisis conditions and widespread testing of patient-facing staff. 

“At this point, we don’t see any issues at all with hospitals being able to test symptomatic clinical staff,” he said. 

Borgerding also noted that the number of positive cases has increased along with expanded testing, but pointed to the hospitalization rate as a more important metric for gauging hospitals’ readiness for surges. 

“Wisconsin’s COVID-related hospitalization rate has been generally trending downward,” he said. “It fell quite a bit, and it’s been more or less flat for about two weeks. And then over the last couple days it’s been dropping. And that’s very positive.” 

Still, he said hospitals are still challenged with a lack of personal protective equipment as supplies get rapidly used up due to “heightened infection mitigation” steps being taken, as well as more testing. 

Borgerding said demand on PPE supply chains is significant, and will likely only grow as testing continues to ramp up and hospitals start to phase in elective procedures that have been delayed.

-By Alex Moe