COVID-19 Update: Ascension Wisconsin
Ascension Medical Group Launches Dedicated Respiratory Care Site in Rhinelander:
Ascension Medical Group Wisconsin is launching outpatient Respiratory Care Sites dedicated to care for COVID-19 suspect or confirmed patients. These sites are designed to offer care for patients with acute respiratory illnesses in a controlled, and safe care environment to minimize the spread of COVID-19 to otherwise healthy patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The goal of these respiratory care locations is to treat those who need immediate care for coughs, sore throats and other respiratory infections but are neither critically ill nor need to be seen in the Emergency Department,” said Stewart Watson, M.D., North Region Vice President of Clinical Services, Ascension Medical Group Wisconsin. “Clinicians and associates at these locations are specially trained in use of personal protective equipment and disinfection that will take place during and between each patient visit.”
Starting Monday, April 13, a Respiratory Care Site has been established at Ascension St. Mary’s – Rhinelander , located at 2251 North Shore Drive. Hours of operation will be 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday – Friday.
Patients seeking care will need to undergo a respiratory illness screening process before visiting or gaining entry to a respiratory care site, to ensure they receive the appropriate level of care. “People with shortness of breath or chest pain, should still seek care at an emergency department,” added Watson.
Patients can be screened for respiratory illness care by a Registered Nurse by calling 715-361-4850 or by contacting their local Ascension Medical Group provider office, or via Ascension Online Care (ascension.org/OnlineCare).
Respiratory Care services offered on site include an in person full evaluation of acute respiratory concerns, specimen collection for influenza, COVID-19 and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) with X-ray services available as needed.
“Patients who need to be seen will be given directions to our Respiratory Care Site where they can be safely evaluated and treated, including imaging and lab where appropriate.” added Watson. “Patients who do not need to be cared for in person will receive directions to a drive-thru testing location if needed along with a stay at home recommendation with a care management plan that may include a regular touch base with their provider via Ascension Online Care or phone call.”
Ascension Wisconsin Drive-Through Testing Sites – Seven Locations Now Available :
Ascension Medical Group Wisconsin (AMG-WI) added another location for drive-through testing on last week with the opening of the Drive-Through Testing location in Owen. Hoover Road Respiratory Care Site in Stevens Point. Drive-through testing locations for COVID-19 are now available in Tomahawk, Rhinelander, Woodruff, Crandon, Plover, Stevens Point and Owen.
Individuals who wish to be tested at drive-through locations must first be pre-screened by an Ascension Medical Group provider. Pre-Screening appointments are available:
• By calling your local Ascension Medical Group Provider
• Virtually by using Ascension Online Care (ascension.org/OnlineCare)
The pre-screening involves answering a series of questions about symptoms, travel history and any potential contact with COVID-19 patients. Patients who meet certain criteria, which is based on current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will be given care guidance based upon answers provided to the pre-screening questions which include symptom severity.
Screening: Individuals who meet the pre-screen criteria, will be referred to their AMG-WI provider. Individuals who do not have a connection to an AMG-WI provider, but who require additional evaluation or care, will be connected with a local AMG-WI clinic for follow-up. The AMG-WI provider will determine if testing is clinically recommended.
-Process for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) Donations
Ascension Wisconsin is now accepting donations for personal protective equipment (PPE).
The following drop off locations have been established in North Central Wisconsin:
• Stevens Point Area: Ascension Medical Group – Hoover Avenue, Plover and Waupaca- Please place items in the dropoff receptacle located in the front vestibule.
• Weston/Wausau Area: Weston Abby Bank Location.
• Merrill Area: Ascension Medical Group – Merrill
• Rhinelander Area: Ascension Rehabilitation Services (Northwood’s YMCA). Please call 715.966.0375 to schedule an appointment for dropoff.
• Stanley Area: Ascension Medical Group – Thorp
• Individuals or companies interested in making a donation should contact Ascension Wisconsin’s Foundation partners at AscensionWIFoundations@ascension.org .
Once the donation is confirmed, arrangements will be made to pick up the donation and deliver it to the appropriate Ascension Wisconsin facility. Supplies being requested for donation:
• Isolation Gowns, Earloop or Tie Masks
• N95 Respirators and Face Shields
• Hand Sanitizers
• Surface disinfectants
• Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPR) or Controlled Air Purifying Respirators (CAPR)
• Other approved PPE supplies advised by the CDC
Other than the identified drop off locations. Please, do not drop-off PPE donations at Ascension Wisconsin facilities. The Ascension Wisconsin Foundation team will work directly with individuals and companies to assess each donation. At this time, Ascension Wisconsin cannot accept donations that are handmade (ex: sewn face masks) and is working with local and state health officials to determine if such items could be an option in the future. Ascension Wisconsin is following the updated CDC guidelines regarding suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases and the use of PPE. The safety of our patients, associates and providers is our utmost priority as we all work to slow the transmission of COVID-19 and care for all those in need.
Ascension Wisconsin Implements Virtual Visitation
To help minimize the impact of COVID-19, we’re limiting visitors in our hospitals. As of March 21, 2020, in-person visitation has been temporarily stopped. We encourage family members and friends of patients in our care to stay connected with their loved ones by virtual visitation. Our goal is to protect our associates and those we are privileged to serve by limiting possible exposure to COVID-19 and directing people to the right level of care.
There will be some exceptions on a case-by-case basis, including labor and delivery, pediatrics, neonatal intensive care (NICU) and end-of-life care. Those seeking services at Emergency Departments, Urgent Care or Clinic sites are asked to limit companions as much as possible for the safety of our patients and associates.
We understand that during this time it is important to stay connected to loved ones and remain aware of their status while hospitalized. We encourage any potential visitors to use alternate methods of communication to stay in contact with loved ones, such as calling, video chatting, or texting.
The updated restricted visitation policy at Ascension Wisconsin also includes the following:
All visitors and vendors entering Ascension Wisconsin facilities will be screened for flu-like symptoms including fever, cough, runny nose/nasal congestion and or sore throat.
No visitors who screen positive for cough, fever or difficulty breathing will be permitted into the facility.
Visitors under the age of 18 will not be permitted.
To implement this, Ascension Wisconsin facilities will be implementing minimized entrance points as needed.
We appreciate the community’s support in adhering to these guidelines, as we continue to care for
Elective Surgeries and Non-Urgent Medical Appointments:
In order to protect against potential COVID-19 exposure, and to ensure the availability of resources to meet emergent health needs during this pandemic, Ascension Wisconsin is following guidance by the CDC, the U.S. Surgeon General, and American College of Surgeons and postponing elective services and non-urgent medical appointments.
Our top priorities are the health and safety of our patients, associates and visitors. Ascension providers will continue to provide emergency surgeries and procedures and clinically evaluate time-sensitive care delivery needs. We recognize that each case is unique, so processes are in place to review requests for procedures that might be considered elective to determine issues of optimal timing and resource support. Elective procedures are those that have options in terms of timing/level of urgency to be completed, or are determined non essential at this time.
Examples of postponed services include:
Nonurgent procedures that would require intensive care unit (ICU) care
Elective procedures that post-procedure would require occupancy in an inpatient hospital bed
Elective procedures on high risk patients whereby post-procedure status may require occupancy in an inpatient hospital bed
Elective procedures on any patient
Annual Wellness Visits Well Child Visits (when immunization is not involved)
Any impacted patients will be notified directly. As cases of COVID-19 increase, Ascension continues to diligently monitor the situation to ensure we are protecting our patients, associates and the communities we are privileged to serve.
Ascension Wisconsin has established a dedicated telephone resource for COVID-19 questions. This can be accessed 24/7 by calling 1-833-981-0711.
Online Information: Self-Assessment Tool Added
Direct access to COVID-19 online information from Ascension can be found here: https://healthcare.ascension.org/COVID-19. This online resource now includes a useful self assessment tool.