Marshfield Clinic prepares for potential coronavirus outbreak, warns about influenza

MARSHFIELD, Wis. (WSAW) - President Trump has made it clear that the United States is prepared for a possible coronavirus outbreak, announcing that Vice President Mike Pence will head a task force aimed at preventing the spread of the virus, officially titled COVID-19.

An exterior shot of on the Marshfield Clinic campus in Marshfield. (WSAW Photo 2/27/20)

Wisconsin is one of several states to have a confirmed case of the virus, that case coming in Dane County. Officials at Marshfield Clinic Health System say they are prepared should a patient with symptoms of the virus turn up in central Wisconsin.

“We’ve been preparing since this was an unknown pneumonia in Wuhan, China,” explained Kate Maguire, Director of Infection Prevention at Marshfield Clinic Health System. “We have been looking at preparing our health system, instituting more above and beyond travel screening questions, putting up signage, and then working just to prepare our staff, making sure they have the most up to date information.”

Maguire says Marshfield Clinic has a system in place should a patient with symptoms of the coronavirus show up. The system is referred to as the three I’s: Identify, Isolate and Inform.

“Once we identify the potential patient, we isolate the patient,” said Maguire. “We get the patient a facemask, we bring them back and handle them under special precautions, and we start that process to protect our staff and other team members. Then we inform, we talk to public health. We confirm whether that patient is truly under investigation for COVID-19, and we can take it from there and work with our state and local partners when working on the next steps with that type of patient.”

Maguire applauds the state for keeping health care providers and the public informed.

“They’ve done a really good job of helping to translate some of the CDC directives into great infographics and information with the public,” added Maguire. “As well as helped keep us abreast of the latest that’s going on with this outbreak.”

Maguire echoed Governor Tony Evers and other state officials, saying the threat to Wisconsinites is relatively low. She added that right now, the greater concern is with influenza, encouraging people to get their flu shots and practice good hygiene.

“Great hand hygiene, covering our coughs, staying home when we’re sick,” said Maguire. “Would both fight flu as well as coronavirus and other respiratory infections.”

For more information on COVID-19, you can visit the CDC’s website.