State Fair Park COVID-19 facility accepts 1st patient as Wisconsin sees another record day

NOW: State Fair Park COVID-19 facility accepts 1st patient as Wisconsin sees another record day

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The first patient has been admitted into the Alternate Care Facility at the Wisconsin State Fair Park on Wednesday, Oct. 21. This, as another day of large coronavirus numbers were reported by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS). 

Forty-eight more people have died from COVID-19 and another 4,205 new cases were confirmed. 

The Alternate Care Facility at State Fair Park opened on Oct.14, and for a week the facility saw no patients. The first patient was transported Wednesday, but due to privacy matters, the Wisconsin Dept. of Administration (DOA) couldn’t disclose what area of the state the patient was transported from. 

“We are thankful to have this facility available to Wisconsinites and our hospitals, but also saddened that this is where Wisconsin is at today,” said Gov. Evers. “Folks, please stay home. Help us protect our communities from this highly-contagious virus and avoid further strain on our hospitals.”

The first patient comes as only 15-percent of hospital beds in the state are available. On Tuesday, Wisconsin DHS says hospitals are sticking to their surge plans before sending any patients to ACF. 

“They are sharing assets and resources and beds within systems among local hospitals,” said Andrea Palm, secretary-designee for Wisconsin DHS. 

Palm says the decision whether a person goes to the facility is at the discretion of the patient with guidance from their doctor. 

“Those conversations would be happening at the bedside about what is best for that patient and what they could expect at the Alternate Care Facility,” she said. 

Care at ACF is free, the facility has also received FDA clarification to use Remdesivir, an injection used to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

“We are using CARES Act dollars to fund the facility and the care that is received there and so that care has no cost to the patient,” said Palm. 

“Now it’s available on the market and hospitals can procure it through their mechanisms that they acquire pharmaceuticals,” said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer for Wisconsin DHS. 

Officials say the surge in cases isn’t just taking a toll on hospital capacity, it’s also putting a major strain on public health capabilities to contact trace. 

“The ability to identify clusters, to notify people have been exposed, is beyond strained,” added Dr. Westergaard. 

DHS is encouraging everyone to stop the spread by staying home, wearing a mask, maintain physical distancing, and avoid gatherings. 

“With record-high numbers of positive cases, hospitalizations, and staffing shortages, there has never been a more critical time for Wisconsinites to act and help stop the spread,” said Palm. “That's why we ask all Wisconsinites to do their part. Stay home, wear a mask and stay six feet apart when you go out for your essential errands, avoid gatherings and events, and wash your hands. These steps are some of the most effective tools we have to overcome this pandemic.”

Palm says they have looked at sites and plans should they need to pursue another alternate care facility, but at this point they don’t think it’s necessary to begin building a second facility. 

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