Gov. Tony Evers is officially announcing the opening of a center at State Fair Park of a center to treat patients suffering from relatively mild cases of COVID-19.
In an executive order released on Thursday, Evers and Andrea Palm, secretary-designee of the Department of Health Services, said the so-called Alternative Care Facility will begin accepting overflow patients from local hospitals and clinics. A primary goal of the project is to make sure precious hospital space remains open for the people suffering from the most serious cases of COVID-19.
State local and officials enlisted the Army Corps Engineers for the construction of the center, which entailed the installation of 500 hospital beds, temporary restrooms, dressing rooms and showers in one of the fairground’s exhibition halls. The actual work was undertaken by various contractors, including Gilbane, HGA Architects and Engineers, Johnson Controls, Staff Electric, J. F. Ahern and Hetzel-Sanfilippo.
More than 200 union tradespeople worked on the center, according to a press release from Local 161 of North Central State Regional Council of Carpenters. Crews came in on two shifts, one running from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the other from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. Most carpenters on the project worked for Hetzlel-Sanfilippo, which in turn enlisted Olympic Co., Riley Construction and VJS Construction Services to help complete the work on time.
“I want to thank all of the individuals and organizations who have worked tirelessly over the past few weeks to not only construct a temporary medical facility, but to also bring on board dozens of healthcare professionals who will care for the patients at the ACF,” Evers said in a statement.
The governor’s executive order lays out strict criteria for when hospitals and clinics can move patients to the Alternative Care Facility. Transfers can occur only when health care institutions have reached 80% of their capacity in places where beds have been added to treat COVID-19 patients or people who have been displaced by COVID-19 patients.
The center will be run by the state’s Department of Administration along with a team of health professionals. Officials there will oversee emergency medical services, ambulance transports, electronic medical records, laboratory services and pharmaceutical supplies and services.
By Wednesday, 246 people in Wisconsin had died from the coronavirus and more than 4,800 had tested positive.