Milwaukee VA Medical Center
New ZIHP clinic makes it easy to get labs
Zip in and zip out.
That’s the concept behind ZIHP – Zablocki Integrated Health Program – that adds a new, streamlined convenience for Veterans and staff at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center.
Starting Aug. 17, the south portion of Building 70’s E wing became the ZIHP Clinic, an area where standard medical testing – such as bloodwork, urine collection, EKGs and COVID testing – takes place in an easily accessible location away from the main hospital (Building 111).
“That’s really why this area was designed: To take people out of having to come to 111,” said ZIHP manager Stephanie Harlow. “This is so much safer.”
Harlow said the hospital is for “health-seeking” people; the new ZIHP Clinic is a “high-volume outpatient testing center” for those who need to have blood drawn or a simple test where the results can be forwarded to their health care provider.
“We don’t want them to have to come into the hospital,” Harlow said. “This is a safe, better option than having to walk into an area where there are health-seeking people.”
How does it work? Harlow gave the following example:
A Veteran has developed a cough that is concerning. He contacts his doctor, who sets up an appointment for a blood draw.
At the appointment time, the Veteran does not go to the East Entrance as is customary now; instead he takes the circle drive on the south side of Building 70, parks there, enters through the courtyard doors and is directed to the appropriate area.
After the blood draw, he exits the same way, never having entered the hospital proper.
“They’re not going to be here very long,” Harlow said, emphasizing that appointments are required. “It’s a high-volume concept, and it’s a really easy in, easy out.”
The test results are forwarded to the doctor, who then contacts the patient and advises the next steps.
“We can start making some of those clinical decisions so people can remain home and not potentially expose themselves by coming out and about,” Harlow said. “It really gives Veterans peace of mind … whatever their issue might be. That’s really the beauty of why this came to fruition.”
U.S. Army Veteran William Aeschliman, 62, of Milwaukee, visited the clinic on Aug. 18 for a blood draw and gave it a thumbs up.
“It was way quicker,” he said. “Everybody was super friendly. I give it the highest marks on everything.”
The only problem, he said, was finding Building 70.
“Because I had only ever been to the East Entrance, I had to get somebody to tell me where it was. Other than that, it wasn’t a big deal.”
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 once he got to the right place, he was in and out quickly after his blood draw.
“It was nice and comfortable. The service was great,” he said. “Just getting here today was the problem. I was told it (the blood draw) would be in a new building, but they didn’t give me directions.”
The ZIHP Clinic has taken over space formerly occupied by the Adult Day Health Care service, which was discontinued due to the pandemic.
In the fall, the plan is to expand the center to include a vaccination clinic and a mini lab, and possibly infusions, Harlow said.
The East Entrance still functions the same, though the new ZIHP Clinic should relieve some of the traffic coming through.
She noted that before the COVID-19 outbreak there would be “massive amounts of people swarming through the East Entrance. And you would look down the hallways and there would be seas of people walking back and forth.”
“This (the ZIHP Clinic) is so much safer. It’s a completely different way,” she said.
“COVID was the catalyst for this change. It forces us to look at how we can do things differently and still give great care to our Veterans.”
For more about the ZIHP Clinic, click here.