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An outbreak of a new strain of Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has led to a worldwide pandemic. Tri-County Health Care has been working to ensure that our patients have a safe and reliable way to receive care during this crisis. We have developed new guidelines and measures to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission so patients have peace of mind and can focus on getting the care they need.


We are testing people with COVID-19 symptoms by appointment at our Wadena location.

If you believe your symptoms might resemble COVID-19 and want to know if you should be tested, you can complete a free virtual eClinic Coronavirus screening here.
For any health questions regarding the Coronavirus, please call the Minnesota Department of Health hotline at 651-201-3920 or toll free at 1-800-657-3903. For additional information, please visit the MDH or CDC websites.

Your Health is Essential and Your Safety is Our Top Priority

Tri-County Health Care has a coordinated response team monitoring the COVID-19 situation. This includes working with the Minnesota Hospital Association and following guidelines set by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Postponing appointments and surgeries in March and April allowed time to increase testing capabilities, acquire personal protective equipment and develop and implement new safety precautions.

  • In-person appointments and procedures: Each patient’s circumstances are evaluated to determine if in-person care is required or if their care can be handled through eClinic or Video Visits.
  • Visitor Restrictions: To reduce the number of people in our facilities, we are currently restricting visitors to lower the risk of exposure between patients, visitors and staff.
  • Screening: All patients, visitors and staff are screened for COVID-19 symptoms and have their temperature checked before entering the building.
  • Masks and hand sanitizer: Everyone is required to wear face masks at Tri-County Health Care. Hand sanitizer is also available at all entrances and our health care staff sanitize their hands before and after each patient encounter.
  • Cleaning and disinfection: All high-touch surfaces and areas are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after patient contact. Waiting rooms are cleaned hourly and all restrooms are cleaned every two hours. Exam rooms are disinfected after each appointment. Click here to learn how Tri-County Health Care is creating a safe environment for patients to meet with their providers.
  • Social distancing: New processes have been put in place to reduce the number of people in waiting rooms and at registration to create a safe distance between people.

As information on this virus evolves, the CDC updates their guidance. These are helpful links to more information from the CDC and MDH.

10 ways to manage respiratory symptoms at home
Disinfecting your home if someone is sick
How to properly wash your hands
How to make your own face covering
Self-Isolation for Individuals Being Evaluated for COVID-19
Steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick
Steps to prevent illness
Treatments for common symptoms ofCOVID-19

Early detection

The CDC believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or up to 14 days after exposure.

Symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat

Click here to see a full list of COVID-19 symptoms and how it differs from influenza, the common cold and allergies.


There are ways people can slow how quickly the virus spreads. This includes closing schools, restaurants and other common spaces, asking employees to work from home, canceling large community events and gatherings and wearing cloth masks in public.

These mitigation strategies are the most important in slowing the spread of the virus:

  • Social distancing: Stay at least 6 feet away from other people if you are in public and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Hand hygiene: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover your cough: Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid travel: Stay at home and avoid situations that could result in exposure, especially if you are 65 or older or have underlying medical conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get tested for COVID-19?

We continue to conduct COVID-19 tests for people with symptoms or close contact with someone infected with COVID-19. There have been positive tests at Tri-County Health Care and in Wadena, Otter Tail and Todd counties. We are operating as though it has been spreading in the community for months. The antibody test for COVID-19 is another type of test. This is a blood test that may tell you if you have ever been infected. Also called a serology test, it looks for antibodies in the blood that your body makes to fight this infection. The antibody test is not looking for the virus itself, but rather whether your body’s immune system has responded to the infection and if the virus was present at one time. We have been performing these tests at Tri-County Health Care as well. Positive COVID-19 cases are reported by the MDH based only on the county of residence. Antibody tests that are positive are not reported by the MN Department of Health on their website and health care organizations are currently not required to report these to MDH. In the three counties that Tri-County Health Care serves, there have been dozens of positive COVID-19 cases reported. A small number of the antibody tests at Tri-County Health Care have returned positive, so we can assume there are many more people in the three-county area that had COVID-19 previously and currently have it. These facts reinforce the importance of social distancing, wearing masks and maintaining high levels of sanitation.

How does COVID-19 spread?

Current understanding about how this Coronavirus spreads is largely based on what is known about similar Coronaviruses. Person-to-person spread: This Coronavirus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

• Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).

• Via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

• These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects: It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. Good hand hygiene is critical to prevent self-contamination. When does the spread happen? Updated: 5/20 People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). Spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports with this new Coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Can I get immunized?

A vaccine is currently being worked on. The CDC estimates the vaccine is 12 to 14 months away from production. Pharmaceutical firms, research clinics and highly trained medical personnel are working around the clock to defeat the virus. You can help by staying home and away from other people if you are sick.

Is it okay to take Ibuprofen?

The CDC is currently not aware of scientific evidence establishing a link between NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofen, naproxen) and worsening of COVID-19. The FDA, the European Medicines Agency, the World Health Organization, and CDC are continuing to monitor the situation and will review new information on the effects of NSAIDs and COVID-19 disease as it becomes available. For those who wish to use treatment options other than NSAIDs, there are other over-the-counter and prescription medications approved for pain relief and fever reduction. Patients who rely on NSAIDs to treat chronic conditions and have additional questions should speak to their healthcare provider for individualized management. Patients should use NSAIDs, and all medications, according to the product labels and advice of their healthcare professional.

What can I do to stay healthy?

The MDH suggests taking the same precautions recommended for avoiding colds and flu. These include: Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

• Avoiding contact with people who are sick.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Staying home when you are sick.

• Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

• Eat healthy, exercise, stay hydrated and get plenty of rest. I feel sick.

Should I come to the emergency room?

Our Emergency Department is prepared to take care of critically sick or injured people in our community. We want to stress the importance of not delaying emergency care and to call 911 for any of the following symptoms: chest pain, compound fracture, difficulty breathing, heart attack, head injuries, major trauma, seizures, severe abdominal pain, severe burns, shock, stroke or uncontrollable breathing.

How do I stay informed?

We will continue to update our Coronavirus website. Alternatively, the CDC is a good source for accurate information.

What can I do to help?

We really appreciate all of the community support pouring in to provide our front line staff with more personal protective equipment (PPE)! As we plan for the possible times ahead, we are specifically in need of manufactured N95 masks.

Additional needs include:
Cloth face masks (Click here for pattern and instructions)
Clear plastic face shields

Safety goggles
Safety glasses
Used scrubs
Sealed bottles of hand sanitizer
Encouragement for the health care staff!

Tri-County Health Care has partnered with The Creative Coalition, Association for Healthcare Philanthropy and the American Hospital Association to launch the "Protect the Heroes" campaign which provides direct support to local health care workers. To make a donation to Tri-County Health Care, please click here.

However, we will be accepting all donations at this time. Donations may be dropped off on the table located outside the front entrance of the Wadena Clinic.


We are very appreciative of all of our community volunteers who have been helping manufacture health care PPE such as gowns and fabric masks. If you are interested in volunteering, please call 218-632-8796. We will provide instructions for specific designs from our staff and infection control experts. Gowns are calf length and long-sleeved with cuffs. Ideal masks have pockets to place the provided filters.

Facility updates

Tri-County Health Care is currently seeing patients at all of its locations. See below for changes:

Wadena Clinic & ReadyCare - Normal operations with a few exceptions.

Verndale Clinic - A specialty clinic for Orthopedics, GYN and General Surgery patients. Limited appointments available for non-respiratory issue patients only.

Bertha Clinic, Henning Clinic, Ottertail Clinic, Sebeka Clinic - Normal operations with mitigation and screening procedures in place. Seeing patients for primary care.

Rehabilitation - Seeing patients for regular services.

MDH COVID-19 Hotlines:

Toll-Free: 1-800-657-3903
Phone: 651-201-3920

We are testing people with COVID-19 symptoms by appointment at our Wadena location.
COVID-19 test - $125
COVID-19 antibody test - $79

Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan, Prepare and Respond to COVID-19

The CDC has guidelines for preparing workplaces to reduce transmission among employees, and maintaining healthy business operations and work environments. Click here for more information.

Graduation/Commencement Celebration Guidance From the MDH

Multimedia Carousel

Virtual Town Hall - 5/7/20

This is the recorded version of the Town Hall event that took place on 5/7/20. Joel Beiswenger, CEO and Dr. Ben Hess, Chief Medical Officer provide an update on the Coronavirus situation.

COVID-19 Conversation with Dr. Ben Hess of Tri-County Health Care

Eric Osberg with Otter Tail Lakes Country talks with Dr. Ben Hess of Tri-County Health Care to get his thoughts on the COVID-19 situation.

Virtual Town Hall - 4/7/20

This is the recorded version of the Town Hall event that took place on 4/7/20. Joel Beiswenger, CEO and Dr. Ben Hess, Chief Medical Officer provide an update on the Coronavirus situation.

Multimedia Carousel

Mental Health Through the COVID-19 Pandemic


Ben Hess, M.D., Navigating Through the COVID-19 Pandemic


Betty Klingaman, Environmental Services Supervisor, Best Practices for Preventing the Spread of Germs


Jill Wilkens, PA, Navigating Through the COVID-19 Pandemic


Theresa Mack, RN, Navigating Through the COVID-19 Pandemic


Alfredmy Chessor, M.D., Navigating Through the COVID-19 Pandemic


Navigating Through the COVID-19 Pandemic