COVID-19 testing center opens
GLEN DALE – WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital has opened a COVID-19 symptomatic testing center — the second of its kind in the Northern Panhandle — as health officials brace for an expected surge in coronavirus cases in the coming weeks.
The off-site location opened Thursday morning in a parking lot next to the hospital in Glen Dale and took five tests in the first day, and another 10 tests by midday Friday.
A similar off-site testing location opened March 18 in Wheeling Park and is operated by Wheeling Hospital, which is managed by WVU Medicine. That location has administered 856 tests as of Friday morning.
WVU Medicine spokeswoman Karin Janiszewski said the additional site in Glen Dale is needed as coronavirus cases are expected to increase in the Ohio Valley this month.
“Especially with the surge expected over the next few weeks, we have no idea (how many cases there will be), although we’re preparing for an influx,” Janiszewski said.
She said hospital administrators at Reynolds have been in close contact with Wheeling Hospital officials discussing how to implement another off-site testing location in the Northern Panhandle.
“We’re in constant communication with Wheeling Hospital to work out any of the bugs, trying to do everything better here,” Janiszewski said.
“It has helped us with having Wheeling Hospital open for a couple of weeks.”
Just like the testing site at Wheeling Park, the location outside Reynolds is not open to the general public. A person must have symptoms of COVID-19, which include fever, cough, shortness of breath or other acute respiratory illness symptoms. They may also be admitted for testing if they have been in contact with a known coronavirus positive patient or have recently traveled to an area with numerous cases.
If the patient sees a primary care provider in the WVU Medicine System, they should contact their primary care provider for screening and an order for the COVID-19 test. If the patient does not have a WVU Medicine System provider, he or she may call the hospital’s COVID-19 navigator line at 304-843-3331.
When that person calls the navigator line, screening questions will be asked to determine if the patient meets testing criteria. If the criteria is met, the patient will be given instructions on when and how to proceed to the testing center.
Workers with the Marshall County Health Department are located at a parking lot next to John Marshall High School, and will check people in before directing them to the white tent next to Reynolds. There, hospital workers will swab a person’s nasal septum and the back of the throat for test samples.
Katie Roach, an ambulatory care assistant at Reynolds who was working at the test site Friday, said the swabbing takes less than 30 seconds. She said the process is not painful, but may be a little uncomfortable for some people.
Patients are then given a packet of information and told to self-quarantine until the test results are returned from the lab.
The center, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, is available to patients from the region. Patients will not be accepted at the testing center without a prior order from their physician or screening via the navigator line.
The Marshall County Sheriff’s Department, Marshall County Health Department, and Glen Dale Police Department are providing assistance at the scene.
Meanwhile, Wheeling Hospital announced Friday its Physician Practice Division is now using telehealth to allow patients to have visits and consults with their doctors via computer. The system will still provide a way for patients to continue meeting with their doctors when the office itself has been consolidated or closed.
Wheeling Hospital recently suspended visits to several of its smaller health centers because of COVID-19.
For practices using telehealth, a link is sent to the patient, allowing them to download the Webex app after the appointment is scheduled. The real time visit can be done over a smart phone, tablet or computer with voice and video capability.
Co-pays and deductibles for telehealth visits are being waived until May 15.
Most of Wheeling Hospital’s PPD doctors have signed up for telehealth and already had the necessary training. Patients interested in taking advantage of the service are encouraged to call their physician’s office for details.