SSM Health Modifies Visitor Guidelines As COVID Numbers Increase In County
As all three SSM Health Greater Fond du Lac Region hospitals – including Ripon Community Hospital, St. Agnes Hospital and Waupun Memorial Hospital – continue to see dramatic increases in COVID-19 hospitalizations and positive tests, the SSM Health Greater Fond du Lac Region is modifying its visitor guidelines to help protect the vulnerable patients it serves.
These guidelines apply to all locations, including clinics, hospitals and other locations. This does not apply to long-term care facilities.
Starting Monday, January 10, the following visitor guidelines will be in place:
- Patients can designate one visitor only for the duration of their stay/appointment.
- Only one primary support person in Women & Infants.
- No visitor for COVID-19 positive patients.
- Compassionate care exceptions may be made in end-of-life situations.
- For outpatient visits, consider attending appointment alone.
- Visitor must be over the age of 18.
- All visitors will be asked to be screened prior to entering the building and must wear masks during entire stay unless eating/drinking.
- Surgical masks are recommended.
Visitors must be in good health (no signs of a respiratory infection, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat). If visiting a hospitalized patient, a visitor should enter through the main entrance to ensure the most direct route to the respective nursing unit.
“With the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, SSM Health Fond du Lac Region – like other health care providers – is looking at what steps should be taken to help reduce potential exposure, especially to individuals with no symptoms, or even minor symptoms,” according to Katherine Vergos, St. Agnes Hospital president. “By significantly reducing visitors coming into our facilities, we will be able to greatly limit potential exposure keeping our patients, caregivers and providers safe.”
While COVID-19 positive numbers continue to increase, it’s important that community members are watching for symptoms, even minor, and contacting their primary care provider or visiting a community testing site. The SSM Health Greater Fond du Lac Region is only testing individuals with symptoms, and call volumes are high at this time.
COVID-19 symptoms can include: fever, trouble breathing, headache, head congestion, muscle pains, sore throat, loss of sense/taste, cough, chills, fatigue, runny nose, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea.
The recent emergence of Omicron emphasizes the importance of vaccination and boosters, even if a person has been previously ill from COVID-19. Natural protection from an earlier strain doesn’t provide as much protection against this strain.
This shows that vaccinations, including booster doses, remain a high priority. Three doses provide significantly more protection both against breakthrough infection and against hospitalizations.
The SSM Health Greater Fond du Lac Region is hosting mass vaccination clinics at its Division Street location, offering first, second and booster doses of Moderna and Pfizer. Vaccines will be available to individuals 12 years and older.
Clinics are scheduled from 8:30 am – 4 pm on Friday, January 14 and Wednesday, January 19, as well as Friday, February 11 and Wednesday, February 16. They will be hosted in the lobby concourse at 420 E. Division Street in Fond du Lac (enter through SSM Health Fond du Lac Regional Clinic main doors).
To schedule an appointment, call 920-926-8400. Scheduling lines are open 8 am to 5 pm, weekdays. Pediatric patients under 12 should still call 920-926-8424.
In addition, individuals interested in receiving their Moderna COVID-19 vaccine booster can make an appointment at SSM Health Ripon Community Hospital for a clinic from 8 am – 4 pm on Tuesday, January 18. The clinic will be offered on the first floor. Appointments are preferred by calling 920-745-3520. Patients are asked to call the clinic to schedule although walk-ins will be accepted.
Here are some ways to stay safe. When traveling or getting together with people outside your household, for your safety and the safety of those you care about, please be…SMART.
- S: Social distance
- M: Mask at all times
- A: Avoid large crowds
- R: Remember…clean hands
- T: Take care to cover coughs, sneezes and avoid touching your face.
Wearing face coverings can also help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
“Face coverings protect others around us by reducing the spread of respiratory droplets when talking, sneezing, or coughing,” Vergos says. “For universal masking to be effective, it requires everyone to be vigilant about wearing masks and encouraging others to do the same. It is important to pair face coverings with good social distancing and hand hygiene practices. Please continue to maintain a social distance of at least six feet as much as possible.”
In addition to face coverings and social distancing, wash hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Make sure to perform hand hygiene anytime touching, changing or adjusting your face covering.
Please remember that face coverings are only as effective as they are worn. Here are some tips on proper use:
- 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, should not be worn below the nose or mouth
- Not be shared
- Be laundered periodically and when they are soiled (washing machine & dried should suffice)