As flu activity increases across the country, Ascension facilities in central and northern Wisconsin provide a number of options to seek treatment if needed.
Ascension Emergency Departments offer 24/7 availability at Hospitals throughout the region and Urgent Care locations in Rhinelander, Merrill, Stevens Point, Plover and Stanley offer another convenient option.
Additionally it’s now quick, easy and more convenient to schedule your appointment online.
“We are pleased to offer a mobile scheduling solution to meet the needs of our patients and improve access to care,” explains Vanessa Freitag, Vice President of Ambulatory Services and Operations Integration, Ascension Wisconsin.
By visiting, getascensioncarencwi.org, patients will be able to view the open appointments, and book the most convenient location and time frame available at their nearest Ascension facility. Patients who use this service are subject to the same treatment evaluation processes as all other patients but rather than spending time in the waiting room, they remain in the comfort of their home. In the event of a delay, users receive updated projected treatment times via automated phone call and email.
Online appointment scheduling is available for Urgent Care services which are intended for individuals with non-life threatening medical conditions such as the flu. On-line check in is also available for emergency room visits for non-life threatening conditions.
Primary care clinicians with availability at clinics in Amherst, Eagle River, Iola, Merrill, Rib Mountain, Schofield, Stevens Point, Plover, Rhinelander, Waupaca, Wausau and Woodruff can also be scheduled online.
“For patients needing urgent care or emergency services, providing advance notice of arrival will result in less time spent in the waiting room and will provide important information to let staff know approximately when a patient will arrive and what injury, illness, or treatment they may require,” said Freitag.
Another way Ascension is providing convenient access and care to patients is through HealtheVisits, an online diagnosis and treatment program for more than 20 specific common medical conditions that do not require an in-person visit. HealtheVisits is available to all Wisconsin residents and visitors ages 2-65 from 7 a.m. – 10 p.m., seven days a week and costs $35 out-of-pocket.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that last year influenza vaccination prevented approximately 5.1 million influenza illnesses, 2.5 million influenza-associated medical visits and 71,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations.
There are two effective strategies for lowering your odds of getting the flu: 1) getting your annual flu vaccination and 2) practicing good hygiene during flu season.
Seniors, especially those living in nursing homes, the very young, and those with a chronic illness or a compromised immune system are at greater risk for more severe illness and other complications such as pneumonia. They are more likely to need hospitalization and face a greater danger of death as a result of the flu. Immunization is especially important for these individuals. Even though you may be healthy and able to nurse yourself through a bout of the flu, you risk spreading your illness to other more vulnerable populations, which is why it is important for everyone to get vaccinated. It is also worth noting that flu vaccination during pregnancy is both safe and recommended.
Flu is spread most often by droplets that become airborne when someone coughs, sneezes, or even speaks. It can also be spread by shaking hands with an infected person or touching a surface such as a doorknob or keyboard that the person has touched, and then touching your hand to your eyes, mouth or nose.
Washing your hands frequently is a key strategy to avoid contamination, especially if you’re in close contact with a sick family member or co-worker.
A person with the flu is contagious from a day before symptoms start to about seven days after symptoms develop. Young children can continue to shed the virus for an even longer period.
In most cases the flu can be treated at home. Stay home from work if you’re sick and keep children home from school or daycare as soon as symptoms develop to protect them and avoid spreading the virus. Get lots of rest. Drink plenty of fluids. Stay warm. Take acetaminophen or an NSAID like ibuprofen to help with the aches and pains, and to reduce any fevers. Follow weight-based dosing to give the proper amount of medication to children, and do not give aspirin to any child under age 12.
Because the flu is a viral infection, antibiotics won’t help. Your doctor should not prescribe an antibiotic unless you have developed a secondary infection, such as an ear or sinus infection. There is a medication available that may help shorten the duration of flu symptoms, but it must be taken within the first 48 hours of illness to be effective and only shortens the course of symptoms by about a day and a half.