Reedsburg Area Medical Center is offering screening measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic but while testing will be offered it will only be reserved for those who are the most sick and severe cases.
Reedsburg Area Medical Center Family Physician and Obstetrics Dr. Chris Wenninger, who is also the president of the physicians group, said those who enter the hospital parking lot will be directed to a queue of cars for staff to come to the vehicle window to ask a series of screening questions, like any symptoms the patient is having or if they have traveled to countries with positive or suspected COVID-19 cases.
Additional screening will be provided in a medical tent located at the Reedsburg Area Physicians Group. It is not a drive through testing area.
If additional screening is required, the patient might be admitted to the emergency room, where the only chance of a COVID-19 test could happen upon further evaluation by a medical provider and will only be administered to those having severe symptoms.
He said those who have no or mild symptoms should not come to the screening or get a screening conducted through the phone. Patients who are screened will be sent home with a verbal or educational handout on self care measures and additional symptoms to watch for and be told to call if showing additional symptoms, he said.
The screening site will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sundays, he said.
“Everybody coming here is getting screened regardless of why you are here,” he said.
Reedsburg Area Medical Center announced it was implementing visitor restrictions to one symptom free visitor/primary support person per patient allowed at a time at the hospital, including the birth center, March 16. The only exception is end of life situations, where there is no limit on the number of visitors as long as they are symptom free, meaning no runny nose, cough or fever.
The difference between screening and testing is a screening is where a medical provider will ask questions to determine the acuity level of the patient and whether they need attention and potential testing, he said.
“It’s asking questions to determine if testing might be warranted and if that’s the case that means you’re probably sick enough to be re-directed to the ER,” Wenninger said. “We have very limited ability here and everywhere to test for this stuff and since there’s no treatment for it, you want to only test the very sick.”
He stressed testing will be done on a very limited basis because of the small amount of tests provided by the state. He said the odds of not getting tested are 95+% and will only be used on the “sickest of the sick.”
“Your odds of getting tested are incredibly small,” he said.
He said symptoms of COVID-19 are the same as the flu: including cough, body aches, fever, sore throat, shortness of breath, potential nauseous and diarrhea. COVID-19 symptoms include severe difficulty breathing.
While most COVID-19 cases have been known to get better, he said the elderly and those with significant health conditions, like those receiving chemotherapy and chronic oxygen, are the most at risk of getting significantly sick with the virus.
The best method if one does come down with the virus is to stay home when sick, quarantine for at least 14 days, rest, practice good hand hygiene and drink fluids, he said.
Wenninger said the best preventative methods to avoid getting sick is washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, practice more cleanliness at home, don’t share food or beverages with people and keep 6 feet of distance if you have symptoms.
“Be smart and sensible about how you are living your life right now because society depends on you to be smart about yourself,” he said. “If you have any symptoms please stay away from people.”
Those who are considered high risk, he said to reach out to neighbors or another loved one to run errands for them, like grocery shopping.
“These people should be staying home,” Wenninger said.
The Sauk County Health Department reported one positive case of coronavirus as of March 19.
Follow Erica Dynes on Twitter @EDynes_CapNews or contact her at 608-393-5346.
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