Wisconsin’s $15 million field hospital treating first patient

The Wisconsin National Guard built the hospital in the spring, but it sat empty and unused until earlier this month when  Gov. Tony Evers ordered it opened.

(The Center Square) – Wisconsin’s coronavirus overflow hospital has its first patient.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services said a single patient is being monitored in the field hospital set up at the state fairgrounds in West Allis.

DHS is not releasing any information about the patient, including his or her age or hometown.

DJS describes the field hospital as a way to “support COVID-19 patients that are not severely ill but still require continued medical support after a hospitalization that has lasted at least 48 hours.”

The Wisconsin National Guard built the hospital in the spring, but it sat empty and unused until earlier this month when  Gov. Tony Evers ordered it opened. The hospital sat empty for another week, from Oct. 14 until Oct. 21, until it got its one and only patient.

Evers has said for weeks that Wisconsin’s traditional hospitals are being overwhelmed by the coronavirus. DHS’s latest update on Thursday said 1,109 people are in the hospital with the virus in the state. Of them, 299 are in an intensive care unit. DHS also says that 85% of the 1,673  beds set aside for coronavirus patients in Wisconsin are full. There are nearly 11,000 hospital beds across the state. 

Brett Healy, president of the MacIver Institute, said those numbers are telling.

“For weeks, Gov. Evers and many hospitals have been sounding alarm bells that our healthcare system was reaching a tipping point because of a recent surge of positive COVID diagnoses,” Healy said Thursday, “And yet, five days after opening the overflow facility, just one COVID patient has been transferred to the facility. Just one.”

Healy added that it is not just a question of patient numbers or hospital capacity. He said there are real questions about how much is being spent on the overflow hospital and other hospitals across the state.

“Gov. Evers declared in May that he was allocating $445 million out of the $2 billion CARES Act funding to help hospitals and the health care systems add capacity to prepare for a fall surge but it appears he only spent $15 million of the $445 million,” Healy added. “Taxpayers deserve greater transparency from the Evers administration on how the $2 billion CARES Act funding has been spent and why we spent millions on an overflow facility that has gone unused.”