Published on March 24, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE: New Virtual Health Clinic, Ambulatory Testing Centers Help Reduce Exposure

Phot of Dr. Shannon Martin the Virtual Health Clinic.

Primary Care Provider and Primary Care Council Chief Shannon Martin, D.O., M.P.H., of MidMichigan Physicians Group, takes the first virtual patient appointment through MidMichigan Health’s new Virtual Health Clinic program. The program was launched in an effort to reduce illness exposure and support the volume of community members seeking COVID-19 testing and direction.

In an effort to reduce illness exposure and support the volume of community members seeking COVID-19 testing and direction, MidMichigan Health launched its first Virtual Health Clinic. The new program helps to provide on demand patient initiated virtual visits through a centralized location.

“This week, our Governor signed an executive order and asked our communities to ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe.’ With the implementation of telemedicine programs such as our Virtual Health Clinic, we can meet our patients where they are,” said Tom Wood, M.B.A., B.S.N., R.N., director of trauma and telemedicine. “Through the Virtual Health Clinic, patients can be referred for a virtual visit by their primary care doctor, specialty clinic, Urgent Care or Emergency Department. They can also get a virtual visit without a referral by calling the Virtual Health Clinic directly. Then, patients are sent a link to the virtual platform through text or email. They are able to connect from a variety of devices and do not need to download a new app or create an account. Next, they are connected to our primary care providers for a virtual visit. Their symptoms are assessed, questions are answered and instructions for further treatment are given.”

The Virtual Health Clinic program launched on Thursday, March 19 at MidMichigan’s East End Building in downtown Midland.

Wood added, “Our program has been extremely successful with more than 300 virtual visits in our first three days. We are continuing to improve the Virtual Health Clinic and are also creating the ability to connect patients to their specialist or primary care for non-COVID-19 related visits. We are rapidly implementing virtual visit capability to three to five MidMichigan provider clinics every day.”

In conjunction with the Virtual Health Clinic program implementation, MidMichigan launched its first Ambulatory Testing Center on the campus of MidMichigan Urgent Care – Midland last week. In following CDC and Health Department guidelines, primary care providers first refer patients to the Virtual Health Clinic for a virtual visit. If deemed necessary, patients are then given an appointment at the local Ambulatory Testing Center.

“During the brief appointment, patients remain in their car while a member of the MidMichigan Health care team meets them at the tent and tests for influenza and other illness at the physician’s discretion. A nasal swab is also collected for COVID-19 testing. Those patients are then sent to their homes to remain in quarantine until their test results are reported to them,” said Paul Berg, M.D., M.H.A., president, MidMichigan Physicians Group. “These measures are just another example of helping to distance those with possible COVID-19 exposure from the rest of our patient population and our staff and health care providers.” 

Additional Ambulatory Testing Centers have been or are slated to open later this week at the following MidMichigan Health locations:

  • Alma: MidMichigan Urgent Care – Gratiot, 321 E. Warwick Drive 
    (Opened Tuesday, March 24)
  • Alpena: Family Medicine Long Rapids, 211 Long Rapids
  • Clare: MidMichigan Medical Offices – Sixth and Maple, 212 West 6th Street
    (Opened Monday, March 23)
  • West Branch: MidMichigan Urgent Care – West Branch, 640 Court Street, M-30

For the safety of all, MidMichigan Health reminds its communities:

  • If you feel sick and have symptoms of a fever of 100.4 or greater, cough or shortness of breath, please call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room.
  • Please avoid contact with others and do not travel while sick.
  • Above all, the best way to prevent the spread of this virus is social distancing and proper hygiene, such as hand washing and not touching our faces. With these two measures we are all significantly less likely to get the illness.

Those wishing to make an appointment through the MidMichigan Virtual Health Clinic may call (888) 591-0500. In addition, as a service to the community, MidMichigan Health has also published a COVID-19 informational hotline with a reminder of CDC guidelines and recommendations.  Staff is also available to help answer community questions Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The hotline can be reached toll-free at (800) 445-7356 or (989) 794-7600.