"Do I need to be tested?" COVID-19 Nurse Triage Line Now Open 24/7 at Curry Health Network
GOLD BEACH, OR (March 18, 2020) – With the evolving COVID-19 viral pandemic, we know many of you have concerns about your health, or the health of your loved ones. Should you be tested for COVID-19? Should you stay home and self-quarantine? What is the process for testing? Where can I be tested? What are the current criteria for testing?
Curry Health Network understands your concerns, and remains steadfastly committed to keeping our staff, patients, and visitors safe while providing care to our community. This is our # 1 goal. To that end, we have established a 24/7 COVID-19 Nurse Triage Line to help answer your questions, as well as explaining our current practices and processes.
24/7 COVID-19 NURSE TRIAGE LINE
Curry Health Network has established a 24/7 COVID-19 Nurse Triage Line to help answer these questions. Community members are invited to call 541.247.3090.
WHERE IS COVID-19 SPECIMEN COLLECTION, AND WHAT IS THE PROCESS?
Patients with the flu-like symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath will be directed to the Emergency Department at Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach where they will be seen in the Triage Room. The patient will receive a medical screening examination by the emergency physician, and this facility’s laboratory has the ability to perform a rapid test to rule out influenza as a potential cause. The emergency physician then will follow guidelines established by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to determine if the patient should be tested for COVID-19. If so, specimens will be collected and sent to an external laboratory for testing as long as collection supplies are available.
Current OHA guidelines for hospitals recommend the patient may have specimens collected for COVID-19 testing if the patient tests negative for influenza and:
the patient has a fever OR respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) AND has been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient in the 14 days prior to symptom, or
the patient has fever AND respiratory symptoms with travel to areas with widespread COVID-19 transmission in the 14 days prior to symptom onset, or
the patient has fever WITH severe acute lower respiratory illness (e.g. pneumonia, ARDS) requiring hospitalization and without an alternative explanatory diagnosis (like influenza)
WHY IS THIS ONLY BEING OFFERED AT CURRY GENERAL HOSPITAL?
There are several reasons why this is being offered only at Curry General Hospital.
To reduce the number of our staff and other patients being exposed to potential COVID-19 positive patients – remember, safety is our # 1 goal.
Current OHA guidelines recommend ruling out influenza prior to COVID-19 testing. Recent changes to regulations now require that all influenza testing be done under a containment biological hood that Curry Medical Center’s laboratory does not have, so influenza specimens must be couriered to and from Curry General Hospital for testing. This can result in a 4 to 6-hour turnaround time during normal hours, and longer during hours without courier service - time that we do not want a potential COVID-19-positive patient to spend in the very busy Brookings emergency department at Curry Medical Center, which is also near to other clinic staff and patients.
To expedite the process for our patient in the safest manner possible.
To maintain the highest level of safety for the most people possible.
To provide a safer environment for patients who need to see a primary care provider or specialist for conditions unrelated to influenza or COVID-19.
To manage resource constraints and conservation of COVID-19 collection supplies to ensure that patients needing the tests are receiving the appropriate level of care.
WHY CAN’T THIS BE DONE AT AN ALTERNATE SITE, OR FROM A VEHICLE?
Currently, most rapid alternate screening locations or "drive through" screening locations have been established in urban areas and manned by Public Health officials, nurses, and physicians. Curry County does not have the resources in its Public Health agency to establish an alternate care location. Although it is not generally recommended to bring people into an emergency department, at Curry Health Network and given current OHA guidelines, the hospital emergency department is the safest and most efficient facility and department that currently has the resources and ability to care for and screen these patients.
With current guidelines and current collection and processing requirements, COVID-19 specimens must be handled in such a way that it is kept at a frozen temperature until delivered to the external testing laboratory. Our courier services would not be able to keep the specimens at the required temperature during transport between facilities. Therefore, COVID-19 specimens must be collected at the hospital and managed by the hospital laboratory that can ensure the needed handling and temperature control.
Curry Health Network would like to reiterate that the decisions made related to the provision of care is to maintain the highest level of safety for the most people possible while at the same time serving the needs of our community. We will change processes and practices as needed in response to new developments or rapidly changing guidelines, but always with safety and compassionate, quality health care in the forefront of decision-making.