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Portage hospital sets up clinic for evaluating patients for coronavirus
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Portage hospital sets up clinic for evaluating patients for coronavirus

Registered nurses review files (copy)

Registered nurses Liz Pflum, right, and Megan Schroeder review medical records in July at Divine Savior Hospital in Portage. 

Aspirus Divine Savior hospital in Portage is utilizing a new respiratory care clinic to evaluate and test patients for COVID-19.

The hospital’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Walters said the alternative screening site “offers enhanced service, where people with respiratory issues can walk in — after calling ahead to let us know they’re coming.”

Walters said that calling the hospital hotline first — 844-568-0701 — is “very important so our medical professionals do not become overwhelmed.”

The Columbia County Health Department reported Thursday that five people in Columbia County have tested positive for COVID-19 and Health Officer Susan Lorenz said there is still no evidence of “community spread” in the county.

The number of positive tests locally had not grown as of 2 p.m. Friday.

The hospital said it will not disclose if the people who tested positive for COVID-19 were tested at Divine Savior and will not comment on the number of people who have been tested at the hospital.

“The important number is the number of people that have tested positive and that will come from the Wisconsin Department of Health,” Walters said, noting that medical professionals in Portage utilize proper protocols to keep its employees and patients safe from the infection.

Those who call the hotline will speak with a non-clinical operator who would then transfer the caller to a nurse if it’s determined they need to speak with a medical professional, Walters said. At that point, the patient would be directed to the alternative screening site for testing if necessary.

The hotline hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Lorenz advises residents to check for important health updates daily by clicking on the “coronavirus” link at co.columbia.wi.us.

Neighboring counties such as Columbia and Sauk, which had its first positive test for COVID-19 on Thursday, have maintained contact with each other concerning their positive cases, Sauk County Health Officer Tim Lawther said.

The health officers encourage everyone in the region to remain calm and practice preventative measures including washing your hands, covering your sneezes and coughs, disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, staying away from large groups of people and maintaining 6 feet of social distance.

“The reality is that we will get through this,” Lawther said. ”Americans have been through multiple communicable diseases in our history, we’ve been through multiple major, nationwide traumas and events and we have come together as a group and community and we have gotten through all of these things. I fully expect we will also get through this, but the best way for that to happen is that everybody needs to practice those preventive measures. This is a community-wide effort. One person cannot solve this problem.”

Follow Noah Vernau on Twitter @NoahVernau or contact him at 608-695-4956.

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