Temporary Changes in UHH Clinic Routines
Monday, March 23, 2020
DODGEVILLE – Preparation for a potential outbreak of COVID-19 cases has Upland Hills Health providers making major changes to everyday clinic appointment routines.
Dr. Sarah Fox, Vice-President of Primary Care Medical Services, said a considerable amount of thought has gone into the decisions being made.
“There have been hours of meetings (mostly over video conference to avoid having too many people in a room together), discussions, and sleepless nights that over the course of a few days have culminated in a transformation to a very different healthcare model than we're used to,” she said. “All in order to continue to take good care of our patients during this situation. These changes are necessary to conserve essential resources and supplies needed to care for you, our community, as we fight the COVID-19 virus.”
Upland Hills Health CEO Lisa Schnedler said she and the team at Upland Hills Health have been working diligently to deal with the COVID-19 crisis for about two weeks.
“We are working closely with our physicians day-to-day, and fully support the changes they are recommending for the UHH clinics,” Schnedler said. “The SSM Health-Dean physicians and providers have been an active part of our planning as well. Patients who see SSM Health-Dean providers should continue to call those clinics and follow their procedures.”
SSM Health-Dean Medical Group Clinic Manager, Tammy Benish said their clinics are operating similarly.
“SSM Health-Dean clinics are not accepting walk-ins either,” Benish said. “We are seeing patients at both Mineral Point and Dodgeville in-person and will have telehealth appointments available starting March 24. We are actively continuing to triage patients with respiratory symptoms through a free Virtual Visit encounter at www.ssmhealth.com/access/virtual-visits
All clinic patients and visitors will be screened upon arrival to the clinic for any respiratory symptoms.”
The following information answers common questions patients have about appointments at Upland Hills Health. Iowa County health authorities encourage readers to share information with neighbors, friends and co-workers, especially people who may have difficulty receiving or understanding information about the COVID-19 virus and subsequent changes to our local healthcare system.
How will my healthcare appointment change?
- Upland Hills Health Clinics in Barneveld, Highland, Montfort and Spring Green Clinics are temporarily closed for in-person appointments. A receptionist will remain available to take your phone calls, answer your questions and help you make an appointment to get the care you need.
- UHH clinics are not accepting walk-in patients. You must call first to make an appointment. This is also true for lab appointments.
- Medical care is being provided at the UHH Dodgeville Medical Center, Mineral Point Medical Center and Mount Horeb Clinic. Providers are seeing patients in-person at these clinic locations.
- If you are scheduled for an in-person wellness visit and you are feeling ill, you must call your clinic to see if it is still appropriate for you to be seen as scheduled.
- Visitors and/or family members should not attend appointments unless needed to care for the patient (example: a parent must attend with a young child).
- Your usual healthcare provider may not be the person you see for an appointment. Some UHH providers are taking on new tasks to cover the needs of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Fox encourages patients to “please trust that our providers are working together as a team to take good care of everyone. We appreciate your patience and understanding.”
What should I do if I need to see a medical provider?
- Call the Upland Hills Health Clinic you regularly visit. Receptionists are available at each clinic. They will make an appointment at the best location for your needs. Same day or next day appointments at Dodgeville, Mineral Point or Mount Horeb clinics may be available.
- You must call ahead. This helps to ensure you are scheduled appropriately. This is for the protection of patients and staff.
What should I do when I arrive?
- When you arrive at your clinic, call the clinic from your car, if possible. Clinic staff will let you know when your exam room is ready for you. This will help you avoid contact with other patients in a waiting room.
- If you don't have a phone, go to the inner lobby and speak into the monitor to let the receptionist know you have arrived.
- If you are asked to put on a mask, please put the mask on as instructed and leave it on for the entire visit. This is to protect patients and healthcare workers around you.
Is it possible to schedule a visit by phone or video?
The term for this type of appointment is telehealth. Upland Hills Health is making this type of appointment available.
- ZOOM software is used for video visits. When you call to schedule your appointment, let the receptionist know you are interested in a telehealth visit. If it is appropriate, a telehealth visit may be scheduled for you. It is important to note, it helps to have the ZOOM app downloaded on your phone, tablet or computer before your appointment.
Telephone visits are an option for those without video capabilities.
What can I do to help the community right now?
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is ordering the closure of all non-essential and urging people to stay at home to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus (effective March 24). We are urging everyone to comply with that order – stay at home if you can!
Additionally, from March 23, 2020 Update from Iowa County Health Department:
Community Donations: Everyone is asking how they can help….We are so grateful for the generous spirit!
- Something you may be able to help with is assisting our emergency responders and healthcare providers in the care they provide. If you have an extra supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N95 masks or respirators, dust masks or procedure masks, goggles or face shields, gowns, coveralls or aprons, or gloves, we ask that you consider donating them! Beginning March 24, 2020, Please bring your new, unused PPE to the Iowa County Health & Human Services building between the hours of 8am and 8pm. These items will be used to keep our frontline health care workers safe!
- We are also getting many requests from the public wanting to help by making masks. We are very appreciative of this as well. We are in the process of seeking guidance from the CDC and Division of Public Health on creating masks that will meet our needs. At this moment, please do not start sewing masks until we can provide guidance on the design. We don’t want to ask residents to make masks, only to ask them to make a different type soon after.
“We are all hopeful that these changes willbe temporary, and look forward to the day when we may return to our ‘normal’ healthcare routines,” Dr. Fox said. “For now, we appreciate community cooperation, understanding and patience as we prepare for the safest way to care for all of us. We are in this together!”