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Support for Rapid Response Fund Strengthens the Ability to Combat COVID-19

In the fight to meet the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic head-on, recent gifts from We Energies Foundation, CFR Engines Inc. of Pewaukee and the PNC Foundation, along with many other donors, have bolstered the efforts of Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin to be preemptive, proactive, and responsive in powerful ways.

All three recent contributions went to the Froedtert & MCW Rapid Response Fund, established to support critical healthcare needs related to the pandemic. We Energies Foundation contributed $50,000 to the fund for frontline workers and $25,000 to support research into COVID-19 treatment. CFR Engines Inc. provided $20,000 for frontline workers and committed to 1,250 masks for Froedtert Health workers and the PNC Foundation contributed $25,000 to support frontline workers.

“In a time of such sacrifice and uncertainty, I’m extremely grateful for the generosity from all of the Rapid Response Fund donors who enhance our ability to navigate the outbreak of COVID-19 in our region,” said Cathy Buck, MSN, RN, President, Froedtert Hospital. “Like our healthcare professionals, our community supporters have stepped up wonderfully during this public health crisis.”

Contributions to the fund support continued comprehensive emergency care for critical patients and expansion of the clinical environment as the patient base grows. The fund also provides comprehensive support for Froedtert & MCW physicians, staff, and faculty – support that includes childcare and eldercare services, mental health services, emergency lodging and meals, procurement of personal protective equipment, and more.

As these efforts expand, three research projects at Froedtert & MCW could profoundly alter how the medical community fights COVID-19:

  • EMCOCARD (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation for 2019 novel Coronavirus Acute Respiratory Disease), a study conducted in up to 90 hospital networks globally (Froedtert & MCW is the only one in Wisconsin) to test EMCO, a machine that pumps and oxygenates blood outside the body, allowing the heart and lungs to rest – an alternative to ventilators.
  • Investigation of Remdesivir, the only antiviral medication being studied in COVID-19 patients and a therapy that affects cell replication by interfering with the genetic material inside the virus.
  • Convalescent plasma treatment – partially supported by MCW’s Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment – in which antibodies are extracted from blood plasma donated by recovered COVID-19 patients and infused into current coronavirus patients to help their immune systems fight the virus.

Testing for COVID-19 remains an important tool in the fight to minimize the spread of the virus. By the end of April, Froedtert & MCW had completed 22 percent of all COVID-19 tests in Wisconsin and achieved the most rapid turnaround of those tests. Along with its partners in Froedtert Health, MCW has also driven the capability of antibody testing, which has been validated and is expected to become widely available through its clinical laboratory by the middle of May. This test to determine if individuals have ever been positive is especially important as Wisconsin’s workforce returns to work.

“We have been at the forefront nationally of testing availability for our healthcare providers and patients, and this capacity has allowed us to extend testing to our community,” said Joseph E. Kerschner, MD, Provost and Executive Vice President, Dean, School of Medicine, and Professor of Otolaryngology and Communications Sciences at MCW.

While the COVID-19 response continues, the Froedtert & MCW partnership will maintain its efforts to keep workers, families, and communities healthy and safe.

“This is an unprecedented crisis,” said Dr. Kerschner, “but our partners and advocates have helped us meet this challenge with tremendous energy, innovation, and compassion.