Wisconsin Weekly: Cuts in Wisconsin hospitals push nurses to the limit

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Exhausted nurses, coronavirus prep, empty dorms, farmer suicides, website security


Of note: This week we highlight our examination of the tension between Wisconsin nurses and hospital management over alleged understaffing  — even before the coronavirus pandemic swept into the state. The cause: cost-cutting that nurses say is putting patients at risk. The reporting by Parker Schorr and Bram Sable-Smith offers a glimpse into a nationwide pattern of labor unrest as hospitals turn to manufacturing-style algorithms aimed at eliminating waste. Schorr, who reports for the Cap Times, and Sable-Smith, who reports for Wisconsin Public Radio, are both embedded in the Wisconsin Watch newsroom. They are now examining how hospitals are preparing to confront a possible influx of patients.

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Parker Schorr / The Cap Times

Mariah Clark, an emergency department nurse, sings “Solidarity Forever” during a meeting of the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority Board at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, on Feb. 27.

Cuts in Wisconsin hospitals push nurses to the limit

Wisconsin Watch — March 11, 2020

Hospital executives are turning to algorithms to slash labor costs. Nurses say they are feeling the pinch and, they fear, putting patients at risk.

Also read: US hospitals – including those in Wisconsin – will run out of beds if coronavirus cases spike

Are paramedics prepared for the spread of coronavirus in Wisconsin? Not all communities are following CDC recommendations

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — March 11, 2020

While officials insist first responders in Wisconsin are ready to safely handle the likely spread of coronavirus, some haven’t been able to order new protective masks, and not all 911 dispatchers are following national recommendations to keep paramedics safe. Former Wisconsin Watch intern Rory Linnane reported this story. 

John Hart / Wisconsin State Journal

UW-Madison freshman Brynn Sproul, 19, packs up her belongings as she prepares for an extended stay away from Smith Residence Hall.

UW students scramble as COVID-19 coronavirus empties dorms, shifts classes online

Wisconsin State Journal — March 13, 2020

A flurry of questions circulated among students about the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s shift to online classes. How do instructors expect to prevent cheating? What can students in science and engineering labs expect? What about dance and music classes? How much support will there be for professors unfamiliar with the technology?

Midwest farmers face a crisis. Hundreds are dying by suicide.

USA Today / Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting — March 9, 2020

More than 450 farmers killed themselves across nine Midwestern states from 2014 to 2018, according to data collected by the USA TODAY Network and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.

Also read: ‘This isn’t the way I wanted it to end’: Dairy farm shuts down after 148 years

Illustration by Kristian Knutsen; screenshot via Washington County / WPR

Many Wisconsin county websites don’t use 2 common security standards

WisContext — March 10, 2020

As Wisconsin voters start going to the polls in the 2020 election cycle, most counties in the state maintain websites that do not employ at least one of two basic practices that would help bolster their digital security and public confidence in their online platforms.

Earlier from Wisconsin Watch: How hackers could attack Wisconsin’s elections and what state officials are doing about it

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