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Ascension Wisconsin requiring screenings, use of face masks in updated visitor procedures

Coronavirus

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(WFRV) – Ascension Wisconsin facilities in three northeast Wisconsin communities are enacting updated visitor procedures as part of a comprehensive response to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Our guidance addresses the safety of our associates and the persons with whom we are privileged to serve, in addition to ensuring that we continue to deliver optimal care,” said Monica Hilt, President, Ascension Wisconsin Fox Valley Hospitals. “Our priority is to reduce transmission risk among patients and associates,  protecting people who are at higher risk for adverse health complications.”

The updated procedures apply to Ascension St. Elizabeth in Appleton, Ascension Mercy in Oshkosh, and Ascension Calumet Hospital in Chilton. Changes include visitor screenings, requiring visitors to wear a face covering, and other general guidelines.

Ascension Wisconsin says visitors will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms upon entering the facility. The screening will include a temperature check with a thermal scanning thermometer. Visitors with flu-like symptoms and/or a cough, temperature greater than 99.5° Fahrenheit, difficulty breathing, and/or shortness of breath, or recent exposure to an individual with COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter. If a visitor screen is negative, the visitation can occur, as long as the visitor is limited to just visiting the patient’s room, according to Ascension Wisconsin.

Visitation of patients under investigation or confirmed to have COVID-19 will not be allowed due to the risk to the visitor. Ascension Wisconsin encouraged virtual visits instead for COVID-19 patients.

Following CDC recommendations, Ascension Wisconsin is encouraging visitors to bring their own cloth covering or facemask when visiting one of their facilities. Face coverings will be provided to those who do not have one. Ascension Wisconsin asks that face coverings be worn at all times within the facility.

Visitors are reminded that masks should not be placed on children younger than 2-years-old or anyone having trouble breathing, adding that the latter patients should be referred to a medical professional.

Ascension Wisconsin adds that one visitor will be allowed per patient and the visitor must remain the same for the duration of hospitalization. The healthcare system says that, ideally, the visitor designee should be the family spokesperson as well for hospital inpatients.

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Visitors should wash their hands and/or use an alcohol-based hand rub before entering and leaving the patient’s room. Visitors are asked to adhere to appropriate social distancing with staff, patients, and other visitors.

Visiting hours are from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. A parent or guardian may stay with a minor patient per specific department guidelines beyond normal visiting hours. Ascension Wisconsin says 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.

“If the patient has extenuating circumstances, these will be addressed individually with the patient’s healthcare team to determine appropriate visitation that is safe,” said Hilt. 

To stay connected to loved ones and remain aware of their status while hospitalized, Ascension Wisconsin encourages any potential visitors to use alternate methods of communication to stay in contact such as calling, video chatting, or texting. Access to guest Wi-Fi at Ascension Wisconsin facilities is available by connecting to AH-Guest.

“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,” said Hilt. 

For more information on Ascension Wisconsin, visit: https://healthcare.ascension.org.

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