Atrium to screen possible coronavirus patients outside ER

Atrium Medical Center has established a patient screening area outside its Emergency Trauma Center in order to provide the “safest possible environment” for patients, visitors and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a release.

The designated area, which opened Thursday, has been set up in accordance with infection-prevention protocols and allows those expressing respiratory issues to be kept separate from incoming trauma patients.

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“This split flow of operations allows us to safely and efficiently assess any patient who has symptoms consistent with the COVID-19 virus,” said Dr. Jill Aston, director of Atrium’s Level III Emergency Trauma Center. “This proactive measure for patient management will protect high-risk patients and mitigate the impact on the Emergency Trauma Center.”

When patients arrive, they will meet a staff member outside the Emergency Trauma Center entrance. Patients with respiratory symptoms will be taken to a medical tent for additional screenings and care, according to the release. Alternatively, those who do not show fever and respiratory symptoms will be directed to the main Emergency Trauma Center entrance for appropriate care.

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The new measure is to help facilitate existing screening procedures for those entering the emergency room and is not a public testing location.

Those who believe they have symptoms of COVID-19 should call their primary care physician or make a virtual visit, and not go to the emergency department, which is for those in need of the most critical care, Aston said.

“This is imperative so our hospitals are not over capacity and our most vulnerable patients can be treated first,” she said. “Many individuals with mild symptoms will not need to be tested and will be instructed to isolate themselves from others. If you have symptoms and suspect you have been exposed, contact your primary care doctor. If you qualify for testing, your doctor will provide further instruction.”

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