Four days after the United States declared a national emergency due to COVID-19, St. Croix Regional Medical Center (SCRMC) created a drive-thru assessment in St. Croix Falls. SCRMC quickly acted to provide a convenient method of testing for COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses. Within a matter of days, the team had secured tents, heaters, developed methods for conserving personal protective equipment (PPE), and established testing protocols.
Patients could safely remain in their vehicles and medical staff would approach with key questions about symptoms, exposure, and recommend COVID-19 testing or other respiratory illness testing. If further treatment was recommended, patients could park and enter a separate entrance with a dedicated exam area and be provided a treatment plan or be sent to the emergency department if necessary. In addition to treating COVID-19, common conditions such as influenza and strep throat could be quickly identified, minimizing any additional contact with other providers or clinic staff.
The staff braved cold temperatures, snow, thunderstorms, tornado watches and sweltering heat to help minimize patient exposures. Donned in full PPE, the staff helped patients feel at ease. Through the end of September over 6,000 patients have visited the drive-thru assessment area.
SCRMC collaborated with other health systems and labs to process the tests and began quickly developing its own internal ability to efficiently analyze tests and provide results to patients. While SCRMC moved to an appointment-only drive-thru assessment area, we can still safely see patients with symptoms, exposure or needing pre-procedure testing at a time that is convenient for them.
In early November, SCRMC will be opening a state-of-the-art respiratory illness clinic that has a dedicated entrance and completely segregated air handling with complete air turnover every five minutes for aerosolizing procedures. This dedicated space will allow SCRMC to safely treat patients during the cold Wisconsin winters and help keep other patients safe.