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GRAND RAPIDS — Spectrum Health this weekend opened a drive-up location to collect specimens from people who have been referred by a physician for a test for the Coronavirus and COVID-19.
The location, in a tent at 1300 Michigan St. NE in Grand Rapids, is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily by appointment only for patients with a physician referral.
“During this public health incident, our chief concern is to make sure we are taking care of the community and preventing the spread of COVID-19,” Spectrum Health said in a statement. “We are opening drive-up COVID-19 specimen collection centers to enable fast, efficient and safe collection for testing at the state lab. It is important for community members and people who are worried about COVID-19 to understand that we may collect specimens only from individuals who have a physician’s order. This site is for patients with appointments only. It is not a drive-up site for screening, testing or on-demand specimen collection.”
Spectrum Health urges people who have symptoms — fever, coughing, shortness of breath — or are worried they have the virus to call the COVID-19 Hotline at (616) 391-2380 for a free phone screening. The health system will then advise them on the next steps.
Other health systems in the state have taken similar action.
Hospitals also have imposed tight restrictions on visitors and are screening people who are still allowed entry.
Under an executive order by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, health and residential care facilities through April 5 must “prohibit from entering their facilities any visitors that: Are not necessary for the provision of medical care, the support of activities of daily living, or the exercise of power of attorney or court-appointed guardianship for an individual under the facility’s care.”
By Monday or earlier, care facilities must evaluate all individuals not already under care before allowing them to enter. Care facilities must deny entry to anyone showing “symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat,” according to the executive order. They must also deny entry to people who have had contact in the last 14 days with someone with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19.
“While these restrictions may be burdensome for some, they have been enacted to protect frontline caregivers and critically ill individuals from the spread of COVID-19. In addition, the revised language will allow for visitors in certain special circumstances such as allowing parents to be with a child, or a partner to be with a mother giving birth,” the Michigan Health & Hospital Association said on Sunday in a statement supporting the prohibitions.
“We ask for the public’s patience and support as hospitals implement these requirements to screen not only visitors but staff entering their buildings. These additional processes make it even more critical that people who do not absolutely need to be at the hospital do not go there,” the MHA said. “We continue to urge patients who have COVID-19 symptoms who are not experiencing an emergency to call their primary care provider’s office for guidance before traveling to any healthcare facility in person. If you do not have a healthcare provider, call your local hospital.”
The action comes amid unprecedented efforts in the U.S. and worldwide to contain spread of coronavirus, as well as worries about the potential for the pandemic or overrun the health system.
Over the weekend, USA Today reported that according to its own analysis, “no state in America will have enough hospital beds to treat novel coronavirus patients if the surge in severe cases here mirrors what’s happened in other countries.”
As MiBiz reported Friday, West Michigan hospitals have been preparing for a surge in patients and can take actions such as postponing elective surgeries that require hospitalization or discharging patients quicker or transferring patients ambulatory care centers to free up patient beds.
Hospitals could also face difficulties in handling sick patients who require isolation, as well as in having enough gowns, masks, gloves and hats needed to protect caregivers. Hospitals often source those items from China, where coronavirus began at the end of 2019.
“So supply chains are a little disrupted, too,” said Ronald Grifka, chief medical officer at Metro Health-University of Michigan Health System.