Sentara opens drive-thru coronavirus testing

Sentara Healthcare has opened three drive-thru testing locations in Hampton Roads, including one at the Williamsburg Regional Medical Center.(WYDaily/ courtesy of Sentara)

Sentara Healthcare has set up testing facilities for the coronavirus (COVID-19) at three Hampton Roads locations Monday in addition to updating visitation policies.

Sentara announced during a conference call that there will be new drive-thru screening and testing locations at the Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center, Sentara Princess Anne Hospital in Virginia Beach and Sentara Edinburgh in Chesapeake.

Danya Bushey, director of corporate communications and public relations for Sentara, said those locations were chosen based on the higher numbers of cases.

The centers opened Monday at 1 p.m. and close at 6 p.m. Starting Tuesday, the centers will be open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Visitors to the testing sites will remain in their vehicles and go through a three-step process. The hospital is asking people to come to the testing centers only if they believe they have at least two of three symptoms— a fever, a cough or shortness of breath—associated with the virus and meet the travel or contact criteria from the Virginia Department of Health.

The first step is a series of screening questions that address the physcial signs of the virus. A clinician will approach the driver’s car and ask questions about their physical symptoms. The clinician will remain six feet away from the car, officials said.

The clinician will then determine if the individual should move onto step two or if they should go home.

At step two, the individual will be screened by a health care provider who will ask additional questions and determine if the individual needs a test.

During step three, a test is performed on an individual through a nasal or oral swab.

Once testing is done, patients will be asked to quarantine themselves at home until test results come in. Bushey said results could take up to five days — if a patient’s symptoms require additional medical care then they will be directed to available services.

Bushey added that the testing centers are asking those who are not at moderate to higher risk of complications with the virus quarantine themselves and wait to get tested. This is to provide more resources for those with health complications or who are older than 60, who might have more severe complications from the virus.

Those who are older than 60 and have a higher risk of complications should come into the center to be tested.

Dr. Jordan Asher, senior vice president and chief physician executive, said more test kits are becoming available across the country and Sentara Healthcare has already spoken with vendors to place orders for more.

Dr. Genemarie McGee, corporate vice president and chief nursing officer, said test kits are being allocated to locations across the state based on demand in those areas.

Sentara Healthcare is also working on a plan to develop their own testing labs by the end of March.

There are also dedicated respiratory units at Sentara hospitals which will provide a location for in-patients who have tested presumptive positive or are awaiting test results. These units are for high-risk or confirmed positive patients who require hospitalization.

The units will only have essential staff available who will wear full protective gear, which will hopefully limit exposure to staff and other patients.

Sentara has also updated its policies on visitation.

Starting Monday, all visitation is suspended at the Sentara facilities with a few exceptions.

Patients in childbirth can have one partner and one birth support person accompany them. Patients in the Nursery and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit can have two parents, legal guardians and caregivers who must remain in the room for the duration of the visit.

Patients in end-of-life situations may have two visitors.

Those with disruptive behavior, where a family member is necessary for their care, are allowed only one visitor.

Patients are only allowed one visitor during their stay in the Emergency Department.

All visitors age 12 and younger are prohibited from Sentara hospitals and visitors must remain in a patient’s room for the duration of their visit. Once a visitor leaves the room, they have to immediately exit the hospital.

All elective surgeries are being postponed after a statement from the Surgeon General on Sunday that encouraged health care systems to reschedule any non-vital surgeries.

Sentara has also created a Call Center that will be open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. for those who want more information about the virus and resources. The Call Center can be reached at 833-945-2395.

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