Treatments at area hospitals and clinics quickly changed at the onset of COVID-19 in March. It can be a frustrating time for people who are unsure just how to handle health matters at this time. Local hospitals are doing their best to keep patients healthy. While things change frequently to ensure the best current practices, here is some insight on what steps to take if you or family members are not feeling well.
At Amery Hospital and Clinic (AHC), a person’s symptoms and condition dictate how a patient would be cared for when they arrive at the hospital. They have specific rooms and protocols for patients who arrive with COVID-19 symptoms, and other rooms for patients who come to the hospital without COVID-19 symptoms.
A spokesperson for AHC said, “If a person is experiencing cold and cough symptoms, we recommend staying home and in isolation to protect themselves and others from exposure.
If someone has questions or concerns about symptoms, they should call their primary care clinician, who can advise on most appropriate next steps.”
A spokesperson for Osceola Medical Center (OMC) said, “We are very concerned for our patients who are not seeking needed care during this time for fear of going out or thinking we’re too busy. We are never too busy for your care. Our routine family practice services have been available all along for anyone who needs them. However, we have implemented some modifications and have established a specific Respiratory Clinic separate from general care to ensure the safety of patients, visitors and staff. At minimum, please call.” When persons who are sick with non COVID-19 symptoms come to Cumberland Hospital and Clinic (CHC), protocol varies based on what department a patient is seen.
If entering the Emergency Department, you will be screened via intercom before entering the building. “If they are highly suspicious we will don our PPE and mask them at the door, then they will be taken immediately into a negative pressure room,” said a CHC spokesperson.
At Cumberland, if a patient arrives to any of the hospital outpatient departments, they screen everyone at the door by checking temperatures and asking standard screening questions. If they have a fever of 100.0 or greater or answer yes to any of the symptoms, they are asked to go home and shelter in place until 72 hours after their symptoms resolve. If their symptoms become worse CHC asks they call their provider screening line or come to the ER. If a patient is coming to the clinic, again they are screened at the door, and if they are suspicious they are masked and they go to a separate, red clinic that has been developed for all febrile or respiratory patients. They have a GREEN clinic for chronic patient management.
If a patient believes they have COVID symptoms, do they call 911? The hospital? The clinic?
CHC said they can triage the patient over the phone and provide appropriate guidance whether they need to be seen or should remain at home.
St. Croix Regional Medical Center (SCRMC) has a drive-thru assessment available seven days a week at their St. Croix Falls location where patients with symptoms can be evaluated. The care team will make recommendations on any necessary tests or treatment. If it is a true medical emergency, they feel patients should call 911. “We encourage those who are having symptoms to seek treatment,” a spokesperson said.
In Amery, many typical appointments can be done remotely, either via phone or computer. People can schedule these virtual visits like they would any other appointment. Virtuwell.com is also another option for receiving care digitally.
At CHC, they have continued face-to-face appointments. They have designated separate clinic space for potentially infectious patients, where they do not comingle with patients who are coming in for management of chronic conditions. CHC also does provide an option for TELE-Visits, as does SCRMC and Baldwin’s Westerern Wisconsin Health (WWHEALTH). A spokesperson for SCRMC said they have protocols in place to treat all patients as emergencies and illnesses still happen and they