TAWAS CITY – Changes with how patients and visitors are handled and how the public can access the Ascension St. Joseph Hospital in Tawas City, were implemented last week by hospital officials.
The changes were rolled out across the hospital chain, according to Christine Bergman, the agency’s marketing and communications manager, in the wake of COVID-19 virus, she said in a press release.
The changes were designed to help protect hospital staff, patients and ensure the spread of the disease is contained in the hospital setting. Other actions similar to what is taking place at the main hospital have been implemented in other areas, including nearby Ascension clinics, according to reports.
One change that will be noticed by the public when they arrive at the hospital is the new triage area that are located near all the emergency department entrances, including Tawas City.
“This includes Ascension St. Joseph – Tawas City, Ascension Standish Hospital – Standish and Ascension St. Mary’s – Saginaw,” said Bergman in the release. “Triage areas have been set up as part of Ascension’s emergency preparedness protocol. These measures are being put in place to help distance individuals with a concern about Covid-19 exposure from the rest of our patient population, staff and health care providers.”
Bergman said that anyone who believes they may have been exposed to Covid-19, and has developed a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness – such as a cough or shortness of breath – should call their healthcare provider immediately.
Members of the public may also notice the Iosco County Sheriff Department’s new mobile command trailer stationed at the entrance of the hospital in the coming weeks.
According to Iosco County Sheriff Allan MacGregor, the trailer is stationed at the hospital by use of hospital staff to screen those who may be potentially infected with COVID-19.
Bergman said the hospital is also taking proactive steps with its supply distributor and suppliers to ensure access to supplies at the hospitals.
“We are arranging expedited shipments directly from manufacturers, assessing alternative products and taking advantage of our abilities as a national system to make intra-hospital inventory transfers when appropriate,” she said. “The safety of our patients and caregivers is our utmost priority as we all work to slow the transmission of COVID-19 and care for all in need.”
Included with the changes are also restrictions and changes on visitors accessing the hospital, Bergman said.
“To help protect the health and safety of our patients, families, health care staff and providers from the spread of COVID-19, Ascension Michigan is enforcing patient visitor restrictions for all of its hospitals and ambulatory sites.,” she said. “These restrictions are consistent with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order, EO 2020-7.”
Under the changes, no visitors are permitted at the hospitals unless under special circumstances, including:
• One visitor permitted for support of activities of daily living like bathing or eating for pediatric (under 21) and special needs patients.
• One visitor for a surgery patient.
• One visitor for a hospice patient.
• One visitor for patients at the end of life.
• One visitor for patients in serious or critical condition
• One birth partner (as well as a doula if participating in the birth).
• One visitor required to make a decision on behalf of the patient (patient’s medical durable power of attorney, court appointed guardianship).
Also under the guidelines, no visitors are permitted at Ascension ambulatory (outpatient) sites except for:
• One accompanying person that is necessary to support the delivery of care to the patient.
• One accompanying person for a surgery patient.
• One accompanying person for patients in serious condition.
• One birth partner (as well as a doula if participating in the birth)
Any visitor meeting the above criteria must pass a health screening before entering any Ascension Michigan facility
“To help protect the health and safety of our patients, families, health care staff and providers from the spread of COVID-19, Ascension is following the CDC, Surgeon General, and American College of Surgeons guidelines which have recommended limiting elective services,” Bergman said.
Bergman said Ascension Michigan began deferring all elective procedures on Tuesday, March 17. Elective procedures are those that have options in terms of timing/level of urgency to be completed, or are determined non-essential at this time.
“We recognize that each case is unique, so processes are in place to review requests for procedures that might be considered elective to determine issues of optimal timing and resource support,” she said. “We will continue to monitor the disease activities and will use a data driven approach to revisions in the recommendations, particularly regarding duration of care deferral.”
Bergman said Ascension is working to keep our community healthy during this time and prevent the spread of infection while helping to ease access to care.
For the most up-to-date information about COVID-19, visit Ascension’s website at https://healthcare.ascension.org or call 833-981-0738.