As of Tuesday morning, Adena Health System has performed 54 COVID-19 screenings. Currently, 16 of those test specimens are with the Ohio Department of Health and a private laboratory company, as Adena clinicians and patients await the results. Of those tested, Adena has received one positive result for COVID-19.
Testing for COVID-19 is ongoing across the health system, which is following the testing criteria recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH). The criteria outlines specific instances when a patient or person under investigation (PUI) should be tested for the COVID-19/coronavirus. Following ODH criteria is important in preserving the limited number of COVID-19 test kits that are available to each hospital across the state and nation.
“Every time you interact with a patient who wants testing, you are using personal protective equipment (PPE – masks, gloves, gowns, etc.) and precious viral test swabs,” said Adena Chief Clinical Officer Kirk Tucker. “The test kit needed to identify COVID-19 includes very specific testing swabs, and at this point there is a shortage of them because the majority are made in Italy. Adena received a limited number of these viral testing kits, and very early on we decided to be extremely judicious in our use of them. We need to be sure that when the wave hits, and we are seeing the sickest patients, we are prepared by having those supplies we need (viral test swabs and PPE) to care for our patients, and to protect our caregivers.”
Adena continually works within the recommendations of the Ohio Department of Health, which has been putting out its COVID-19 testing protocol instructions daily. This criteria is intended to prioritize testing based on distinct criteria, including: how sick the patient is – symptoms when they present; any prior contact with confirmed positive COVID-19 individuals over the past 14 days; if they are a health care, safety, public service worker; or a patient in a long-term care facility.
“We need this guidance to make a clinical decision about whether or not the patient is placed into isolation and/or tested for COVID-19. We look at all of that data and we take it extremely seriously,” Tucker said. “To go out and screen in public, or screening those not meeting the ODH criteria is not what is recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, nor the Ohio Department of Health, and frankly it is very wasteful. We have a responsibility to our communities to preserve testing supplies and PPE so that we have them when they are most needed.”
Following is information that may help members of the community understand Adena, CDC and ODH guidance.
If you suspect you are infected with COVID-19:
· Step One: Call the COVID-19 Hotline 740-542-SAFE (7233)
· Step Two: Answer a series of screening questions
· Step Three: Follow instructions provided by the screener.
Why was I told that I could not be tested?
Adena follows Ohio Department of Health testing criteria for COVID-19. Your symptoms and/or condition did not meet the testing criteria set by the ODH.
What is ODH’s testing criteria? Patient has:
1. Fever and signs of lower respiratory illness (cough or short of breath) and is either a health care worker with direct patient care, or in a public safety occupation (law enforcement, firefighter, EMS) and has had close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient within 14 days of symptom onset.
2. Fever and signs of lower respiratory illness (cough or short of breath) and is a resident of a long-term care facility and is hospitalized.
3. Fever with severe acute lower respiratory illness (pneumonia, ARDS as evidenced by imaging) and is hospitalized and the health care provider has high clinical suspicion of COVID-19 after thorough evaluation (has no alternative plausible diagnosis).
4. Other special circumstances where there is a requirement for prompt receipt of results, such as patients involved in an illness cluster in a facility or group (i.e. health care, corrections).
What if I believe I have some of the symptoms for COVID-19, but not all included in the criteria?
You may be ill, but you may not meet the ODH testing criteria. Some symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to a cold, flu or other common viral illnesses. As with any illness, if symptoms are not severe you should stay home and treat your illness as you normally would. You may also call Adena’s COVID-19 Hotline at 740-542-SAFE (7233) for a verbal screening. However, if you have chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, a severe headache or other potentially life-threatening problems, go to the nearest emergency department or call 911. Please notify the 911 dispatcher or the emergency department of your COVID symptoms PRIOR to arrival.
To learn more about COVID-19 and the Ohio Department of Health’s testing criteria, visit www.coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).
Submitted by Maria Smith, director corporate communications, Adena Health System.