Southfield-based Beaumont Health has started processing a limited number of COVID-19 tests in its own laboratory. On-site processing allows doctors to have results in hours instead of days.
“We’re proud to have developed a mechanism to process tests within our health system,” says Dr. Barbara Ducatman, chief of pathology and laboratory medicine for Beaumont Health.
Ducatman was recently named chief medical officer for Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak. “It typically takes months to do this, and we did it several days. Our lab team’s expertise has allowed us to serve our patients better during this pandemic. However, we must conserve our testing supplies. That’s why we’re only processing our own tests for certain patients who meet COVID-19 testing criteria and are admitted to our hospitals or are receiving treatment in one of our emergency centers.”
The health system has also increased the staffing of its COVID-19 hotline. Patients should only call if they have the COVID-19 symptoms: fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. On Tuesday, the hotline received nearly 5,000 calls. The number is (800) 592-4784 and is in operation from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Staff on the hotline will answer questions about the virus and direct patients to the appropriate level of care including treating symptoms at home, following up with a primary doctor, or seeking treatment at an urgent care or emergency center.
Beaumont plans to launch web-based screening for patients later this week.
All Beaumont hospitals are offering limited curbside screening and evaluation for COVID-19. Staff is evaluating hundreds of patients in their vehicles each day. Hours are from 6 a.m.-2 a.m. at the Dearborn, Royal Oak, and Troy locations and 10 a.m.-10 p.m. for the Grosse Pointe, Farmington Hills, Taylor, Trenton, and Wayne locations.
“This limited screening is only for patients who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19,” says Dr. Nicholas Gilpin, medical director of infection prevention and epidemiology for the health system. “If medical staff determines a patient needs to be tested, a specimen will be collected. Please try to call ahead to Beaumont’s COVID-19 hotline, 800-592-4784, or your physician’s office before attempting to get screened. Again, testing is not necessary for everyone. Some people can develop COVID-19 and not need to be officially tested since the treatment for less severe cases does not change. Most people who become infected with the disease will not experience complications and will recover. They will just need to go home, rest, and take over the counter pain medication.”
Beaumont hospitals are prepared to cohort patients who have COVID-19 – if hospitals receive a large influx of patients, they will receive care on a unit dedicated to COVID-19 patients. Treatment in special units will help protect these patients and their caregivers.
Other actions Beaumont has taken include implementing visitor restrictions at hospitals, reducing non-essential surgeries as advised by the U.S. Surgeon General, using a command center to ensure the Beaumont team can communicate and share resources, communicate with state and federal health agencies and lawmakers regarding efforts to contain the virus, working with other health systems to share best practices, and following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and screening protocols while maintaining infection control best practices.
Beaumont has paused physical and occupational therapy services as well as cardiac and pulmonary rehab services in an effort to protect patients and staff and move resources and staff to where they are most needed. The health system says more service closures will follow as needed.
To help stop the spread of COVID-19, people should stay home when they are sick; wash their hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating, after coughing or sneezing, and after using the bathroom; avoid close contact with people who are sick; avoid touching their eyes, noses, and mouths; and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a household cleaning spray or wipe.
Beaumont’s hospitals have 3,429 beds, and the system has 145 outpatient sites.
To stay up to date on COVID-19 news, visit C-Span.