March 17, 2020
Dear Community Leader,
The World Health Organization last week used the word “INFOdemic” to discuss the literal tsunami of information that is being beamed at people around the globe related to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. I am hoping that we can be helpful to you by localizing some of this information and keeping you informed about what is happening here.
First, I want to reassure you that our health system, and others in Wisconsin, have been hard at work for weeks preparing for the impact of this virus. Our staff is well trained and expert at looking for patients with potential exposure, and know when and how to move to special management protocols. Having said that, it is equally important that we protect them as well, as they are the ones ensuring we can continue caring of our community.
We have assessed our capacity for patient care, including equipment and how we can use our patient care space in the most appropriate and efficient way, should a surge occur. We are in constant touch with our vendors in terms of needs and how they will be met. We have a repertoire of actions that can be taken should they be needed, and will move with immediate speed if needed.
We are having discussions with local businesses and organizations about how we can all work together to the benefit of our community, and I will keep you posted on that. I thank many of the organizations and leaders that have already stepped up to help. Furthermore, if you have ideas on that topic that you would like to discuss, please give me call.
We will be moving forward with deliberate actions and preparation, but without panic, and we hope we can help instill that in our communities. We are in constant communication with our local, county and state public health officials, and their support and information is invaluable.
What can you do now, at this time? We would ask you to firmly impress upon your workers, members, associates and everyone that you know to take this intently. We still see surveys of Americans who don’t think this is serious. We are talking about a virus that has the potential to be fatal, and because of your role, you can make a difference in changing the attitudes of those around you.
- The biggest thing today is slowing down the spread of the disease. Social distancing, which you’ve heard about it, is important. Six feet of separation should be a habit for now.
- If you, members of your family or colleagues have symptoms that are more than mild and there is an exposure history, and if you are a ThedaCare patient, you have access to a symptom checker that will help you understand your risk profile and will enable you to figure out next steps. This may include calling your primary care clinic to receive treatment advice before deciding to visit a clinic, urgent care, emergency room or a hospital. This will ensure our teams can review your condition on the phone first, then, if necessary, greet and isolate you upon arrival to minimize possible exposure to other patients and team members. The majority of people with mild symptoms may not need to come to the clinic or hospital at all, although if you have a health condition that puts you at an increased risk, it is important to talk to a caregiver to make sure you are getting the right care recommendations. In many cases, the most appropriate course is to treat your mild symptoms at home as this will reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread to others in our community.
- To help with information overload, use the three websites on the last page for facts.
We have been preparing to ensure that together we flatten the curve of spread, help our community to follow social distancing, and partner with community resources to help caregivers and their children so that they can be at work to serve the people in the community and restore our health to normal levels.
We have implemented heightened visitor restrictions to continue caring for our communities, while minimizing the potential for exposure. While this change may cause some disruption, know it was made with the utmost concern to protect our patients, staff and community. These restrictions are outlined on the next page too.
In your role as a community leader, please help correct any misinformation that you hear, and go out of your way to tell the people you talk with that they can take a key step to help protect the people of Wisconsin, themselves, their friends, families and neighbors. Social distancing. Make it a habit. Be part of our education team. If we can slow the spread, we can reduce transmission and make sure we have what is needed to treat those in need.
I want to thank each and every one of you for what you do in this community to lead it in amazing ways so we can continue to be a great place to live in and thrive together. We are better equipped to handle this situation working hand-in-hand than individual companies or people. This is a fluid state, so I will commit to doing my best to keep you informed from our perspective and keep lines of communication open to update and educate as needed to overcome this crisis together.
As always, if you have questions or concerns, please call my office directly.
Together, we can make a lifesaving difference.
Imran A. Andrabi, MD
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
Wisconsin Department of Health Services https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/disease/covid-19
Visitor Restriction Details:
At All ThedaCare Facilities
All visitors, contractors and vendors will be screened at entrances. Visitors with any symptoms will not be able to visit and will be prohibited from entry.
- Experienced fever, cough, sore throat, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (tiredness) or shortness of breath within the past 48 hours.
- Exposed to anyone exhibiting any of these symptoms within the past 48 hours.
- Had contact with someone known to have coronavirus or actively being tested for coronavirus within the last 14 days.
At ThedaCare Hospitals, Clinics and Surgery Centers
- No visitors will be allowed in rooms of patients with pending or positive COVID-19 tests, except under extreme circumstances or in a guardian situation.
- Anyone under the age of 16 is restricted from visiting, except under extreme circumstances.
- One essential visitor or support person may remain with the patient for the duration of the visit. After a visit is complete, visitors must leave the building and cannot remain in waiting areas, public areas or cafeterias.
- Some exceptions may made for end-of-life situations or other extreme circumstances.
- Visitors who are coughing or showing signs of illness will be asked to leave the facility.
- Additional restrictions may be imposed based on the clinical status of the patient or provider judgment.
At The Heritage, Peabody Manor and Juliette Manor
- No visitors will be allowed, with the exception of those visiting residents who are experiencing a significant change of condition or at the end of life.
- Residents of The Heritage may not visit residents in other areas of the campus, including the CBRF or Peabody Manor.
In ThedaCare Emergency Departments
- Visitors are prohibited in adult ED patient areas. Visitation will be based on the clinical team’s judgment.
- Only one visitor allowed per pediatric patient; parent, guardian or caregiver only. Visitors should speak with the patient’s clinical team if the patient requires additional assistance.