The Osceola Medical Center (OMC) and other area hospitals are ready to care for all patients, both with and without COVID-19 symptoms, and have put procedures in place to keep everyone safe. Matt Forge, the CEO of OMC, said he’s concerned people with non-COVID health issues are refraining from coming in because they believe the hospitals are either too busy or not able to currently treat them.

“We are never too busy for your care,” he said. “Our routine family practice services have been available all along for anyone who needs them. However, we have implemented some modifications and have established a specific respiratory clinic separate from general care to ensure the safety of patients, visitors and staff.”

Should a perspective patient not want to come in for fear of exposing themselves to COVID-19, Forge said OMC is also able to provide some care over the phone and virtually. 

“We offer options for patients via video and phone visits for folks who are fearful to venture out or may think we’re too busy preparing for the coronavirus,” he said. “In addition, our pharmacy has curb-side delivery and can mail prescriptions to registered customers.”

Forge said the best way to know what you should do is to call before coming in.

“Patients can call us ahead of time to determine their best course of action,” he said. 

Should a perspective patient feel they have COVID-like symptoms, Forge said they should also call before venturing to the hospital.

“If you suspect you have coronavirus, call us. That’s the biggest part of all of this,” He said. “We can quickly assess your condition over the phone and provide options for your care.” 

Forge said the hospital is fully staffed and ready to care for patients of all kinds. He urged residents not to neglect their routine health needs during the pandemic. 

“When you think about it, immunizations can’t wait, and neither can your diabetes or acute care situations,” he said. “Our concern is for patients who are not seeking care when needed because conditions could worsen to the point of hospitalization. If we can stress anything, please continue taking your medication and seek care and treatment when needed.”

Other area hospitals echoed Forge’s concerns, and said they too have put strong procedures in place to keep patients and healthcare workers safe. 

Cumberland Healthcare in Cumberland Wisc. has set up screening via intercom for any patients looking to enter their emergency department.

“If they are highly suspicious we will don our PPE and mask them at the door, then they will be taken immediately into a negative pressure room,” said a representative for the hospital. “If they present to any of the hospital outpatient departments we screen everyone at the door, we check their temperature and ask them standard screening questions.  If they have a fever of 100.0 or greater or answer yes to any of the symptoms, they are asked to go home and shelter in place until 72 hours after their symptoms resolve.  If their symptoms become worse we ask they call our provider screening line or come to the emergency room.” 

Amery Hospital and Clinic also urged anyone exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms that is not in need of serious medical assistance to simply stay home and self-quarantine. 

“If a person is experiencing cold and cough symptoms, we recommend staying home and in isolation to protect themselves and others from exposure,” said a representative from Amery. 

Forge at OMC said while the pandemic has affected the hospital just as it has the rest of the world’s economy, he believes they’ve learned valuable lessons from COVID-19 and said he hopes the recovery after coronavirus subsides will be swift and complete.

“Recovery may not ramp up nearly as fast as our preparations for the pandemic,” he said. “But we have a positive outlook.”

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