Hospital sets up tents for virus testing

MIKE SPRINGER/Staff photoMedical staff look out from a tent set up outside Holy Family Hospital in Haverhill to provide drive-up testing for COVID-19. 

Holy Family's laboratory staff suited up head-to-toe in white garb and other protective gear Monday for the first day of the hospital's drive-up coronavirus testing.

A proactive measure, the screenings were only for patients with a doctor's order in hand, according to hospital staff. They will be available for the “foreseeable future.”

Patients experiencing symptoms of the COVID-19 virus, including fever, cough and shortness of breath, are asked to call their doctor, who may order a lab test to be administered by Holy Family personnel.

Haverhill does not have a confirmed or presumptive positive case of coronavirus, but the hospital is doing everything possible to be prepared, according to Director of Marketing and Community Relations Deborah Chiaravalloti.

“It's really for convenience and it's part of our preparedness” she said. “If we do get into a situation where there is a high influx of patients, we want to make sure we can serve them safely and quickly.”

According to Chiaravalloti, the screenings are only done with a doctor's order and walk-in patients will be turned away. The swab tests are sent to Quest Diagnostics for processing and fees are billed to the patient's insurance carrier, Chiaravalloti said.

On Monday, Holy Family restricted access at both its Haverhill and Methuen campuses, with only one visitor per patient allowed. All visitors must be over the age of 18 and are only allowed access after they are screened.

Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini asked city residents not to call 911 unless they are truly experiencing an emergency and that they be mindful not to “overwhelm” local facilities.

“We're asking people not to rush down to the medical facilities,” the mayor said. “Call your doctor ahead of time and they will screen you on the phone. If your doctor really thinks you need to be checked, call that facility first to make sure they can handle you.”

Updated medical information can be found at coronavirus.gov or by calling 211.

 

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