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Wisconsin Alternate Care Facility to close amid decreasing COVID-19 numbers
covid coverage

MADISON — The Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) announced March 19 that the decommissioning process has begun for the Alternate Care Facility (ACF) at Wisconsin State Fair Park, as COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state continue to trend downward and Wisconsin remains a leader in the nation for vaccination distribution.  

“The Alternate Care Facility was constructed as hospitalizations from COVID-19 were increasing across our state to ensure that our health systems and local governments could continue to provide high-quality care to Wisconsinites,” said DOA Secretary Joel Brennan. “It not only brought relief to our hospitals but also provided quality and compassionate healthcare to Wisconsinites in their time of need.” 

“The ACF was a valuable resource during the fall surge of COVID-19 cases. Knowing this facility was available gave providers and health systems confidence that we had options as our own hospitals and clinics filled up with COVID-19 patients. ACF staff was professional, responsive, and easy to work with,” commented Bartho Caponi, MD, UW Health. 

A total of 170 individuals received treatment at the facility between Oct. 2020 and Jan. 1 as part of Wisconsin’s continuum of care efforts. On Dec. 22, 2020, the ACF opened a Bamlanivimab (BAM) Infusion Clinic to meet the needs of local southeastern Wisconsin health systems that did not have the capacity at the time to serve their patients with the new outpatient treatment. A total of 37 individuals were treated at the BAM Infusion Clinic. 

“On behalf of the Milwaukee Health System CEOs, the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership team, our patients, clinicians, and support staff, we want to thank Deb Standridge, CEO of the Wisconsin State Fair Park Alternate Care Facility, and her entire leadership team for helping us manage a record number of patients at a time when many facilities faced staff shortages due to COVID-19 exposure or illness,” said Ascension Senior Vice President Bernie Sherry. “The collaboration between ACF experts and the Milwaukee health systems laid the groundwork for future partnerships that will benefit all patients in our community.” 

In Feb. 2021, the ACF was placed into “mothball” status meaning that it was not actively accepting transfers from hospitals, while DHS and DOA continued to review data and continued conversations with health systems. Sanitation of the facility has already begun, with Wisconsin State Fair Park expected to be back to its original state before the end of April.  

“On behalf of the ACF Leadership team and staff, I am honored to have had the opportunity to partner with hospitals across the state to care for COVID-19 patients,” said ACF CEO Debra Standridge. “And I am proud of the work we did in listening and responding to our health care systems’ rapidly changing needs during the pandemic — from adjusting the ACF’s patient admission criteria to diversifying our service offerings to implementing the BAM Infusion Clinic.”  

“We are grateful to Wisconsin State Fair Park’s leaders, Board, and staff who have been critical partners throughout the construction and operation of the ACF,” said Brennan. “Their willingness to be flexible and serve their fellow Wisconsinites at a historic time is truly commendable.”