By David Walter
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Zip in and zip out.
This is the concept behind ZIHP – Zablocki Integrated Health Program – which adds a new streamlined convenience for veterans and staff of Milwaukee VA Medical Center.
From August 17, the southern part of the E wing of building 70 became the ZIHP clinic, an area where standard medical tests – such as blood tests, urine collection, EKGs and COVID tests – take place in an easily accessible location, far from the main hospital (Building 111).
“That’s really what this area was designed for: to keep people from having to come to 111,” said Stephanie Harlow, director of ZIHP. “It’s so much safer.”
Harlow said the hospital was for people “seeking health”; the new ZIHP clinic is a “high volume outpatient screening center” for those who need a blood test or a simple test, the results of which can be passed on to their health care provider.
“We don’t want them to have to come to the hospital,” Harlow said. “It’s a safe and better option than having to walk in an area where there are people who seek health. “
How it works? Harlow gave the following example:
A veteran developed a disturbing cough. He contacts his doctor, who sets an appointment for a blood test.
At the time of the appointment, the veteran does not come to the entrance is as is the custom now; instead, he takes the roundabout on the south side of building 70, parks there, enters through the courtyard gates, and is directed to the appropriate area.
After the blood test, he leaves in the same way, never having entered the hospital proper.
“They’re not going to be staying here very long,” Harlow said, stressing that appointments are necessary. “It’s a high volume concept, and it’s really easy to get in and out of. “
The results of the test are sent to the doctor, who then contacts the patient and advises them on the next steps.
“We can start making some of these clinical decisions so that people can stay home and not potentially expose themselves on the way out,” Harlow said. “It really gives veterans peace of mind… whatever their problem is. This is really the beauty of why this came to pass.
U.S. Army veteran William Aeschliman, 62, of Milwaukee, went to the clinic Aug. 18 for a blood test and gave it a boost.
“It was a lot faster,” he said. “Everyone was super nice. I give it top marks on everything.
The only problem, he said, was finding building 70.
“Because I had never been to the east entrance, I had to ask someone to tell me where it was. Other than that, it was okay. “
Billie Carlock, 52, of Milwaukee, a U.S. Navy veteran, had a similar experience the same day.
He too was initially sent to the wrong building, but when he got to the right place he walked in and out quickly after his blood test.
“It was nice and comfortable. The service was excellent, ”he said. “Just getting here today was the problem. I was told that (the blood test) would take place in a new building, but they gave me no directions.
The ZIHP clinic has taken over the space once occupied by the adult day health care service, which was interrupted due to the pandemic.
In the fall, the plan is to expand the center to include a vaccination clinic and mini-lab, and possibly infusions, Harlow said.
The east entrance still operates the same, although the new ZIHP clinic is expected to relieve some of the traffic.
She noted that prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, there would be “massive amounts of people invading the eastern entrance. And you would look down the halls and there would be seas of people coming and going. “
“This (the ZIHP clinic) is so much safer. It’s a whole different way, ”she said.
“COVID has been the catalyst for this change. It forces us to see how we can do things differently while taking good care of our veterans. “
To learn more about the ZIHP clinic, click on here.