SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa (KCAU) – Lakes Regional Healthcare, Lakes Family Practice, and Spirit Lake Medical Center are temporarily changing their clinic practices to help protect patients and staff and to conserve resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Patients may have more appointments scheduled as virtual visits instead of in-person visits, unless the the visit is urgent or emergent.
The virtual visits are face-to-face visits through a smartphone, tablet, or computer, and if any medication is needed, it can be prescribed thorugh the virtual visit.
Outreach visits may be done virtually as well.
“We are grateful to have technology in place to allow care to take place virtually, when possible, during the COVID-19 outbreak,” Jason Harrington, Lakes Regional Healthcare president and CEO said.
Annual adult wellness visits are being postponed or scheduled for a later date.
Lakes Family Practice and Spirit Lake Medical Center are continuing to schedule well-child visits for children under the age of two because it is important for children to stay up-to-date with their immunizations.
The clinics have separated care by location to isolate patients with possible illness due to COVID-19 from patients who do not have symptoms of the virus.
- Patients with non-COVID-related concerns are seen at Lakes Family Practice.
- Patients with respiratory symptoms, including COVID-related symptoms are being seen at Lakes Regional Healthcare’s Respiratory Clinic by entering their Outpatient Center.
- The virtual visits are being held within Spirit Lake Medical Center’s location.
To accomplish all of this, all physicians will now be working out of Lakes Family Practice or the Respiratory Clinic.
There will be no patients seen physically in the Spirit Lake Medical Center location.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever of 100 degrees or higher, cough, and shortness of breath.
Anyone who feels they may have COVID-19 are asked to call Regional Healthcare’s COVID-19 Hotline at 712-336-6696, where nurses will assess patients over the phone and provide them with the next steps to receive the care they need.
Anyone with upper respiratory symptoms who are going to be seen in a clinic are asked to report these symptoms in advanced over the phone. Not reporting these symptoms puts health care workers at risk.
If the health care workers are exposed, they may need to be in isolation and are unable to care for patients for weeks.
The Department of Health in Minnesota reported that one in five COVID-19 cases are health care workers.
“We are counting on our patients to help us keep our healthcare team safe,” Harrington said.
“We want patients to know we are still here to address their health needs. Everything we are doing is to keep patients and employees safe, while conserving resources for critical needs such as heart attacks, accidents, and severe cases of COVID-19,” Spirit Lake Medical Center physician Zach Borus, M.D., M.P.H., said.
Lakes Regional Healthcare is continuing to reschedule elective outpatient procedures.
Those impacted have been and will continue to be contacted by phone or letter.
Lakes Regional Healthcare continues to allow no visitors in the clinics and hospital, with exceptions made in the case of end-of-life, maternity care, pediatric care, and those with special needs.
Harrington said staff are encouring other ways for patients to keep in touch with freinds and family, including phone calls, texts, and video chats.
Borus said the community’s effort to “flatten the curve” is appreciated.
The main ways to help “flatten the curve” can be accomplished by:
- Staying at least six feet away from others, especially those who are sick.
- Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds every time.
- Avoiding toughing your face (eyes, nose, and mouth).
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Coughing or sneezing into your elbow, or into a tissue, then throwing the tissue in the trash and washing your hands.
- Staying home, except to get medical care when warranted.
Harrington would like to remind folks there are local resources during the COVID-19 outbreak:
- The COVID-19 Hotline is available for healthcare advice and services at 712-336-6696.
- Those needing help with groceries or pharmacy orders can receive volunteer help through an Iowa Great Lakes Corona Relief Group by clicking here.
- A Facebook group called Iowa Great Lakes COVID-19 Local Guide has been formed and provides information about service from area restaurants and businesses.
For up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Dickinson County, follow Lakes Regional Healthcare on Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter.