Getting Your Care Safely at UW Health During the COVID-19 Response

While Sue Malone was initially worried about spending so much time in the hospital during the pandemic, she says she always felt safe and appreciates the way her care team supported her throughout her recovery.

We understand that you and your family may have questions about coming into a medical facility at this time, and we are taking every precaution possible to make your hospital or clinic visit safe.

Below are some frequently asked questions and answers we hope will help you and your loved ones as you begin to reschedule important procedures or appointments at a UW Health medical facility.

Safety at UW Health Clinics

What safety measures are taking place at UW Health clinics?

All UW Health clinics are screening patients, staff and visitors at the entrance to minimize the chance of anyone with COVID-19 symptoms from possibly spreading the virus. Patients, visitors and staff are required to wear face coverings in our facilities. We have signage and tape markings in the clinics to ensure proper physical distancing. Visitation restrictions help limit the number of people in our facilities, which supports physical distancing and limits opportunities for spread of the virus. And we have managed our supply of personal protective equipment to ensure that patients and their providers have everything they need to be safe.

If I have an upcoming appointment that can wait because my situation is not urgent, how do I reschedule?

Simply call your clinic.

I have an upcoming appointment, should I cancel it?

No. The well-being and safety of our patient’s is always top priority for UW Health and we are making every effort to provide that care safely for in-clinic visits. If you do not feel safe coming into the clinic, we will be continuing to offer video visits through Care Anywhere and communication through MyChart. If you have any questions, please contact your clinic.

Can a family member or friend accompany me to a clinic appointment?

Please refer to the latest patient and visitor guidelines for the current policies: Patient and Visitor Guidelines

Can my clinic appointment be done online through a telephone or video visit?

UW Health continues to conduct many routine clinic visits by phone and is adding the ability to schedule more video visits. Moreover, our Care Anywhere option is always available for unscheduled, immediate care through your computer, tablet or smart phone at a cost of no more than $49. Please contact your clinic to learn more about phone or video options for care.

What if I need to have bloodwork done (lab draw) or need to drop off a urine sample or other specimen?

With our patients, employees and visitors being screened for COVID-19 symptoms before entering our clinics, you can come in to safely have a lab draw or drop off specimens as needed. Most locations offer scheduled lab appointments, so please call your clinic to schedule a lab draw. UW Health clinics do not have drive-up areas for specimen drop-offs.

Safety at Our Adult and Children’s Hospitals

Will I be safe if I am admitted at a UW Health hospital (University Hospital, UW Health at the American Center or American Family Children’s Hospital)?

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, UW Health has been taking several steps to ensure maximum patient safety. These include:

  • Everyone who enters a UW Health facility – patients, visitors, physicians and staff – is screened for COVID-19 to minimize any potential spread of the virus and required to wear a face covering.
  • While not easy on families, adult inpatients are allowed one visitor to minimize any potential spread of the virus. At American Family Children’s Hospital, up to two support persons may visit (but no siblings). View full visitor guidelines
  • All physicians and staff are being asked to take their temperature and monitor themselves twice a day for potential COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Physicians and staff are using personal protective equipment (PPE) and face coverings to protect patients in all hospital settings.
  • Inpatient registration that is normally done at the bedside is now being done over the phone to minimize personal contact.
  • Guest Services is verifying every appointment before the patient is allowed to enter University Hospital.
  • Our gifts shops are open for online and phone orders of balloons and gift bundles assembled by our staff. No flower deliveries are allowed.

Safe Ways to Refill My Prescription

How can I safely refill my prescriptions if I normally go to a UW Health pharmacy?

UW Health pharmacies remain open. However due to COVID-19, we are providing prescriptions only through home delivery, curbside pick-up or through our free mail delivery service. Please call your UW Health pharmacy to arrange the option that works best for you. We can also transfer your prescription from another pharmacy to a UW Health pharmacy.

Performing Surgeries and Procedures Safely

How have circumstances changed to allow for more surgeries and procedures to be scheduled?

The well-being and safety of our patients is always top priority for UW Health and we are making every effort to provide that care safely and to resume all surgeries and normal procedures. As an academic health system, UW Health has expertise in infection prevention and control. We have also taken additional safety measures related directly to COVID-19 in our hospitals and clinics including screening patients for COVID-19 symptoms, taking temperatures with no-touch thermometers, requiring everyone to wear a face covering, physical distancing in all community spaces, visitor restrictions and treating COVID-19 patients in isolation.

Safety During Emergency Visits for Heart Attack, Stroke and Other Critical Situations

Should I go to the UW Health Emergency Department for an emergency just as if I would have before COVID? Will I be an extra burden for doctors and nurses?

UW Health’s Emergency Department is open and operating normally. Despite COVID-19, an emergency is still an emergency and should be treated accordingly. Any patient that comes to the Emergency Department is welcomed and will receive great care. We have the capacity to serve every patient who comes in the door, regardless of the COVID-19 situation.

You still need to listen to your body and care for yourself, and we are here to help you do this. If you are not sure your situation is an emergency, please call your clinic, day or night, to receive advice about whether and where you should be seen.

What are examples of injuries or symptoms that absolutely should be seen in the Emergency Department?

You should come to the Emergency Department now if you would have come to the Emergency Department before COVID-19 arrived.

Adults should come to the Emergency Department for issues such as broken bones, cuts, falls, chest pain, trouble breathing, numbness or weakness, loss of balance, sudden vision changes, drooping of one side of the face, sudden slurring of speech, feelings of self-harm or other emergency situations.

Children should be brought to the Emergency Department for issues such broken bones, cuts, rapid/difficulty breathing, fussiness, vomiting, feelings of self-harm or other emergency situations. UW Health is proud to have doctors and nurses on staff who are specially trained to care for children in an emergency setting, as well as Child Life specialists who are specially trained to reduce a child’s anxiety in a medical situation.

What safety measures are being undertaken to keep the Emergency Department and waiting area safe?

To ensure the highest level of safety, we have restructured the design and processes of the Emergency Department waiting area and strive to get patients into a safe treatment area as quickly as possible. We have undertaken new steps to safely keep any patient who does not have infectious symptoms away from possible exposure. We have also undertaken extra cleaning processes and room designs (including airflow of rooms), along with staff use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep patients and staff safe.

Safety with Med Flight Air and Ground Emergency Transport

Is it safe as a patient to travel on UW Health’s Med Flight air and ground service?

Yes. Our Med Flight air and ground emergency transport helicopter and  ambulance receive a thorough cleaning and decontamination after every transport. In the case of a COVID-19 patient transport, the vehicle is kept out of service for at least an extra hour to ensure additional decontamination.

Our Med Flight team also protects transported patients by wearing a surgical mask and face shield while transporting patients who do not have COVID-19 symptoms. During transports of symptomatic or positive COVID-19 patients, Med Flight team members wear an N95 respirator, impermeable gown, TYVEK suit and face shield.

What About Mammography and Colonoscopy Appointments?

Is UW Health doing mammography?

Routine screening mammography is being performed at UW Health, and we encourage patients to schedule a previously delayed screening mammogram. We are taking safety measures to perform mammography safely for our patients, including screening patients and staff for COVID-19 symptoms, universal use of face coverings for patients and staff, and practicing physical distancing in our waiting areas.

You can contact the UW Health Breast Center to schedule your mammogram at (608) 266-6400. The list of screening sites and contact numbers is also available on uwhealth.org.

Is UW Health doing colonoscopies?

Yes, both diagnostic and routine screening colonoscopies are being performed at UW Health. All patients are being COVID-19 tested prior to their procedure.

What About Vaccinations?

What if I or my child is due for a vaccine but I’m concerned about coming into a clinic? Is it better to have the vaccine or wait until things are more normal?

Because vaccine-preventable diseases are still a major threat to children, it is important that children of all ages receive their vaccinations as needed. UW Health is taking every precaution to deliver these vaccines safely by practicing physical distancing in our waiting areas, screening patients and staff for COVID-19 symptoms, taking temperatures with a no-touch thermometer and required both patients and staff to wear face coverings in our facilities. If you do not have a face covering, we will provide one to you.

What if I already had the first of a multi-visit vaccine (like Shingles) but am supposed to have the second vaccine within a certain amount of time?

Many vaccines require a series of doses. The recommended intervals between doses are guidelines and if the vaccine cannot be given with that time period, the series does NOT need to start over. Please contact your clinic to schedule the vaccinations needed. UW Health is taking every precaution to deliver these vaccines safely by practicing physical distancing in our waiting areas, screening patients and staff for COVID-19 symptoms, taking temperatures with a no-touch thermometer and required both patients and staff to wear face coverings in our facilities. If you do not have a face covering, we will provide one to you.

The practices outlined here are consistent with federal guidelines recently issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.