Agnesian HealthCare is Here to Care for You
Patient Vaccine Information (As of January 20, 2021)
This week, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services gave approval for adults ages 65 and older to begin receiving the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as January 25. Agnesian HealthCare, a member of SSM Health, will begin to proactively reach out to our eligible patients about vaccine availability and scheduling. Due to the large number of eligible patients, scheduling will be done in phases through MyChart and by telephone.
Within this group, we will begin with patients ages 75 and older as they are at a higher risk for serious complications and hospitalization due to COVID-19. As we proceed, we will add scheduling for our patients ages 65 and older, being mindful of those with underlying conditions. We believe this approach will allow us to begin vaccinating our eligible patients as quickly, efficiently and equitably as possible.
It is important to remember that there are hundreds of thousands of people eligible in this current vaccination phase and our ability to vaccinate depends on vaccine supplies. Please be patient as we proactively work to offer vaccinations as efficiently as possible. In the meantime, we ask that you please refrain from calling your health care provider or clinic for vaccine information. Our phone lines need to remain open for patients who are experiencing active symptoms or have acute care needs.
The easiest way to schedule your vaccination appointment will be through MyChart. If you do not have a MyChart account, we encourage you to sign up online. For Agnesian HealthCare patients unable to use MyChart, we will begin to schedule patient vaccination appointments by calling (920) 926-8400 on Saturday, January 23.
If you are not an Agnesian HealthCare patient, please check your local public health department’s web site for more information. You also can find more information on the Wisconsin Department of Health Services web site. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is keeping Wisconsinites informed about vaccine updates with a weekly newsletter. Sign up for this free resource through their web site. For more information about the COVID-19 vaccines, visit the CDC's web site.
Please continue to be vigilant in protecting yourself and others from spreading illness: wear a mask, maintain social distance, practice frequent hand washing, do not gather with people you do not live with and stay home when you are sick.
We continue to work with our community health partners and the Wisconsin Department of Health to ensure this vaccine is available to all who want it in the communities we serve, including members of vulnerable and underserved populations.
We look forward to being able to vaccinate everyone as soon as possible.
Please check this page often for updated information.
How Agnesian HealthCare Keeps You Safe
Thank you for all you are doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 throughout our communities. Your vigilance in adhering to social distancing and stay-at-home guidance has helped to slow the virus and keep everyone safe. We are proud to be a part of the communities we serve and are grateful for your trust and support.
We know you still need access to quality care during this time. You can get care safely at Agnesian HealthCare while keeping your children current on vaccines, having some elective procedures, using our telehealth services or seeking emergency care.
You can safely seek medical care and protect yourself from exposure to COVID-19. Agnesian HealthCare has extensive safety precautions and infection control measures in place at all our facilities to limit the risk of exposure and keep everyone safe. This includes:
- Screening/testing of all patients prior to their scheduled procedures
- Strict visitor policy to limit unnecessary traffic in our facilities
- Entrance screening for all employees, patients and visitors to our facilities
- Adherence to all CDC guidelines and protocols regarding appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for providers and staff
- Requiring all employees, patients and visitors to wear masks or other face coverings when they enter our facilities
- Enhanced cleaning/disinfection processes in our clinics, hospitals and surgery centers
- Plexiglass barriers at check-in and registration to ensure appropriate distancing
- Realigned waiting room seating to ensure appropriate physical distancing
- Discontinuation of public water fountains
Visitor Guidelines (as of August 27)
Visitors (18 years and older) may still be allowed in the following circumstances:
- End-of-life situations or extenuating circumstances, with permission of nursing leader.
- Women & Infants patients will be allowed one visitor, with permission of nursing leader.
- Patients in pediatric settings will be allowed one visitor, with permission of nursing leader.
- The gift shops at St. Agnes Hospital and Waupun Memorial Hospital, as well as hospital cafeterias, are only open to patients onsite for clinic or hospital appointments and not to general public.
If a visitor meets the above criteria, they will be asked to complete a health screening before being approved to visit.
COVID-19 Vaccines Frequently-Asked Questions
It’s exciting to hear about the progress of the COVID-19 vaccines, with several of them showing great promise. While this news is very positive, it is important to remember that there are still several steps to go before vaccines will be made available to the general public. With so much interest in the COVID-19 vaccines, we thought it would be helpful to answer some of the most frequently-asked questions you might have.
Q: When will a COVID-19 vaccine be available in the United States?
A: Before any vaccine can be given in the United States, it must be approved or authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) then must issue formal recommendations about who should receive the vaccine, followed by guidance from local public health departments. Because these are new vaccines, and manufacturers cannot produce enough supplies to immediately vaccinate everyone who wants the vaccine, the CDC has recommended a tiered approach to vaccinations. We anticipate receiving the first vaccine shipments soon once the emergency use authorization is issued, but this does not mean vaccines will be available to the general public right away.
Q: When can I get the vaccine?
A: It is important to understand that the decision about which groups will receive the COVID-19 vaccines first are made at the federal level by the CDC. The vaccines will be given in “phases” that focus on the specific groups of people deemed most at risk, such health care workers and those who may have the poorest health outcomes from infection.
Right now, the first phase of vaccine distribution will focus on long-term care facility residents and frontline health care workers who provide direct patient service/care and are at the highest risk of exposure to COVID-19. This is in an effort to keep as many health care workers as healthy as possible so they can care for patients. We do not know how long this first phase will last. The next phase may include other essential workers and patients who are at highest risk for hospitalization or death if they are infected with COVID-19 (SARS-CoV2). As of now, we do not anticipate COVID-19 vaccines will be widely available to the general public until Spring 2021, or later.
Q: What can I do to stay healthy until the vaccine is available?
A: It is critical that everyone takes steps to stay healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV2). We understand the holidays are an important time for family and friends, but local hospitals are already strained caring for significant numbers of COVID-19 patients. To help prevent the spread and reduce the pressure on hospitals:
- Don’t gather in the presence of those outside your immediate household. If you must, wear a mask and stay at least six feet apart.
- Wear a mask when in public, even in outdoor locations.
- Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, scrubbing thoroughly and rinsing completely.
- If you have symptoms, stay home.
Q: Can I get on a waiting list for the COVID-19 vaccines?
A: There are no waiting lists for the vaccines. When they become available, we want to be able to get them to our patients as quickly as possible. When we have updated information about vaccine availability, we will communicate with our patients and the communities we serve. If you are an SSM Health patient, the best thing you can do is make sure you have an active MyChart account. If you are not already signed up, you can learn how at ssmhealth.com/mychart.
Q: Can I get updates by calling my health care provider?
A: We understand people are eager to learn more about vaccines, but we kindly ask that you do not call your health care provider or clinic for information about COVID-19 vaccines until we let you know that they are available to the general public. This will help to keep our staffed phone lines clear and open for patients who are experiencing active symptoms or have acute care needs.
Q: How can I stay up-to-date on when SSM Health will have the vaccine?
A: We will communicate with our patients and the communities we serve when we have updates about the availability of vaccines. If you are an SSM Health patient, the best thing you can do is make sure you have an active MyChart account. If you are not already signed up, you can learn how at ssmhealth.com/mychart.
Q: Where can I learn more about the vaccine and how it will be distributed?
A: If you are interested in learning more about the COVID-19 vaccines, we suggest you refer to the CDC and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services web sites for accurate, up-to-date information.
FOR UNAFFILIATED HEALTH CARE PERSONNEL
Thank you for your interest in the COVID-19 vaccine. All unaffiliated health care personnel are being directed to Fond du Lac County Health Department to be added to their list of those interested in the vaccine.
Go to https://www.fdlco.wi.gov/departments/departments-f-m/health-department/covid-19-coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine and complete the interest form to let Public Health know of your interest. They will reach out to you to sign up when you are eligible.
Elective Procedures & Children's Vaccines
At Agnesian HealthCare, we know you and your loved ones still need access to high-quality health care services. Our hospitals, urgent care centers and provider offices remain open and ready to provide care if and when you need it. In many of our communities, we are resuming some elective surgeries and procedures, with an initial focus on patients who have delayed non-urgent but essential treatments. In addition, providers don’t want children to fall behind on vaccines and risk exposure to measles and other diseases.
Don't Delay Care: Telehealth & Emergency Care
For routine appointments, Agnesian HealthCare is offering telehealth visits where appropriate during which patients can meet with a provider about their health concerns from the comfort of their own home. Telehealth visits are an excellent option for a variety of conditions and follow-up visits, such as:
- Chronic illness and care management
- Radiation treatment management
- Post-surgical follow up
- Mental health issues
- Physical and occupational therapies
- Annual wellness visits
- Diabetes education
Call or find a provider to schedule a telehealth visit today. Click here to learn more.
In addition to offering telehealth services, Agnesian HealthCare is offering free virtual evaluations for COVID-19. More information is located here.
Not seeking care - particularly for chronic illnesses, and urgent or emergency conditions - could negatively impact your overall health and well-being. Patients should not be hesitant to contact their provider for any health care concerns or needs - or go to the hospital in emergency situations. We're here for you and ready to provide safe, high-quality care.
The COVID-19 pandemic is an evolving situation, and Agnesian HealthCare will continue to evaluate community safety and needs on an ongoing basis. Thank you to our communities, patients and visitors for their patience and understanding during this time.
Your Donations. Your Community.
How You Can Help During the COVID-19 Outbreak
Agnesian HealthCare has received hundreds of generous offers from companies and individuals wanting to donate supplies, personal protective equipment, homemade cloth face masks or money to help prepare the medical community for an expected increase in COVID-19 cases. We will direct donations to the areas of greatest need in the coming weeks.
Your generosity is deeply appreciated, particularly at times like this.
To serve you better, visit here.
Help Protect Our Courageous Caregivers
Make and donate homemade cloth masks
Agnesian HealthCare has been overwhelmed by acts of support for our caregivers from the communities we serve during this unprecedented time. We are now asking our communities to make and donate cloth face masks that will be used as additional protection for our caregivers and patients.
The CDC says the use of simple cloth face masks can slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.
More information about how to make cloth face masks can be found on the CDC web site.
Homemade Cloth Face Masks Should
- fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
- be secured with ties or ear loops
- include multiple layers of fabric
- allow for breathing without restriction
- be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape
With the help of our foundations, Agnesian HealthCare is accepting and making sure cloth face masks are getting where they are needed most in the communities we serve. For more information, call Jennifer Stephens at (920) 924-4662 or Jennifer.Stephens1@ssmhealth.com.
Is coronavirus brand new?
The answer is both yes and no. Actually, coronavirus is a type of virus that was first identified nearly 50 years ago. There are many types of viruses, but recently the virus associated with China is of concern because of the increase in numbers and associated deaths, initially within China. This virus is called the 2019 Novel Coronavirus or COVID 19 - novel meaning new.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Symptoms for the coronavirus mimic those of other respiratory illnesses - mainly fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath.
How does coronavirus spread?
Viruses typically spread by respiratory droplets. This can occur by coughing or sneezing. The spread or transmission can occur within six feet of an infected person. While this applies to the common cold or influenza, the same principle applies to the COVID-19.
Who's at risk?
There is still a lot we don’t know about COVID-19. Many people experience mild illness from the virus, but it can be more severe for others, even resulting in death. Most of the severe cases involve older persons and those with underlying conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure. The general American public is still considered to be at low risk.
What are the best ways to protect myself from this or any other respiratory virus?
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water. Use an alcohol-based hand cleaner if soap and water are not available.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a sleeve or a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth to prevent the spread of germs.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, especially if someone is sick.
- Stay home if you are sick.
What should I do if I think I have symptoms of COVID-19?
Call your doctor: If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your health care provider for medical advice. Calling ahead allows the health care provider’s office to take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed. For more information on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick, visit the CDC web site for recommendations.
How do clinicians protect themselves?
Because this virus is new, health care workers are asked to protect themselves by wearing a mask when in contact with a patient suspected of having this type of virus. The patient is also placed in a negative pressure room (if available) or contained in a private room and must wear an isolation mask. These precautions are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) because this is a new virus and how the respiratory droplets spread is still being studied.
Could all of this information change next week or next month?
Yes. The information regarding the spread of the illness and how people get sick is constantly being updated because this is a new virus. The CDC is the best source of current information on coronavirus.
What should I know if I plan to travel overseas?
If you are traveling abroad, check the CDC web site often and be aware of travel restrictions.