Ascension COVID-19 Update
Ascension Wisconsin Drive-Through Testing Sites – Six Locations Now Available :
Ascension Medical Group Wisconsin (AMG-WI) added another location for drive-through testing on Monday, April 6, with the opening of the Hoover Road Respiratory Care Site in Stevens Point. Drive-through testing locations for COVID-19 are now available at Ascension Medical Group Clinics in Tomahawk, Rhinelander, Woodruff, Crandon, Plover and Stevens Point. Additional sites are currently in development.
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.
If it is determined that testing is not clinically recommended, individuals will be given home care instructions and directed to contact the AMG-WI provider if symptoms worsen. If it is determined that testing is clinically recommended, the patient will be given a testing order and an appointment will be scheduled at an Ascension Wisconsin drive-through testing site. If the patient is experiencing severe symptoms, they will be referred to an Ascension Wisconsin emergency department.
Patients referred to an Ascension Wisconsin drive-through testing site will remain in their vehicle at all times. An Ascension associate will look up the patient’s information in the electronic health record to confirm that they have an established Ascension provider, have been appropriately screened, and testing has been recommended by an AMG-WI provider. Insurance information will be collected for follow-up purposes, if it’s not already entered into the electronic health record. There is no upfront charge for the testing.
Nasal swab samples will be collected and sent to a state-approved laboratory for analysis. Patients will be provided this information at the time of testing and instructed to return home to self isolate for 14 days. AMG-WI will contact patients with results and make appropriate reports to the State of Wisconsin and local health departments.
Ascension will protect pay of associates during pandemic
In an email to 160,000 associates on Friday, April 3, Ascension President and CEO Joseph R. Impicciche said:
“Ascension is committed to protect the pay of associates during this time of disruption from COVID-19, including a commitment to no layoffs and a variety of pay protection programs, and will continue doing so as long as possible. All Ascension associates, including employed physicians and providers, will have this protection even if they are temporarily assigned to a different job within our ministry or unable to work because they have been diagnosed or are suspected of having COVID-19. Ascension has established several different pay programs to provide this pay protection, such as Furlough Pay, Pay Continuation, PTO Advance, Worker’s Compensation, and Short-Term Disability. Ascension is also implementing daycare subsidies and reimbursements for associates who care for COVID-19 patients and may need to stay in a hotel to ensure social distancing from family members.
“We are blessed to be able to make this commitment and appreciate the tremendous work and flexibility of our associates, leaders and physicians in providing compassionate, personalized care. “
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 [email protected] .
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 people who are most in need during these unprecedented times.
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.
What should people do if they think they may have symptoms or have been exposed to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?
• Anyone who believes they may have had contact with someone who is confirmed to have, or is being evaluated for, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), should contact their physician.
• To help prevent the spread of disease, the CDC recommends that individuals call ahead before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room and inform clinical staff about symptoms and any recent travel. Our healthcare professionals will work with public health and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.
• There also is an Ascension COVID19 Hotline set up for those who have questions about COVID-19, are experiencing symptoms, or those who want to receive a text message to schedule an Ascension Online Care appointment with a provider. The toll-free number for Wisconsin is 1-833-981-0711.
• Consider Virtual Care
During this time, with many individuals who may be working from home, or who have children who are at home and out of school, or individuals who are working shifts at various times of day that may make it difficult to take off work to see a doctor, it may be a good time to consider ‘virtual care’ — an option for patients with low-acuity, urgent care issues who would like a virtual visit with a provider using the mobile device of their choice, smartphone, laptop or tablet.
Ascension Online Care offers visits with a doctor 24/7 from work, travel or home. Use code HOME for a discounted $20 visit during the month of March. Download the app at www.ascension.org/onlinecare. Available in all 50 states. No insurance required.
How can individuals best protect themselves and others from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?
As COVID-19 continues to spread in Wisconsin communities, state and local public health officials are recommending community interventions such as social distancing, replacing in-person meetings with telework when possible, reviewing workplace sick leave policies, modifying, postponing or canceling mass gatherings, implementing restrictions on visitors to residential treatment and living facilities, and closures of schools, childcare settings. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. In addition,
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed or unsanitized hands.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
• Reduce unnecessary travel and wear a mask when going out in public if you think you have a contagious respiratory infection.
Toll-Free Hotline –
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.