Precautionary measures are changing rapidly across the world, and DFW hospital systems are no different. More than two dozen COVID-19 cases are confirmed across North Texas, and states are starting to shut down social gatherings, public places, and other areas where the disease could spread as the United States moves a but closer to Italy’s total shutdown. Dallas is currently in a state of emergency, and Governor Greg Abbott has declared a state of disaster.
At Parkland Health and Hospital System, drive-through COVID-19 testing will begin at midday today for current Parkland patients, first responders, and other health care workers, according to The Dallas Morning News. Potential test subjects will need to be interviewed over the phone and approved by the hospital before receiving a test.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the lab set up by the county will be able to test 270 people a day later this week, after the state relaxes its testing guidelines, DMN reports. Patients from other hospitals will not be able to be tested at this point.
At Medical City in Dallas, the hospital has instituted a virtual medical screening option for those who think they may be at risk for COVID-19. Appointments are not necessary, are free of charge, and can be set up here. Actual COVID-19 testing is limited, and only 59 people have been tested in Dallas County so far.
“Medical City Virtual Care allows North Texans concerned about the virus to be screened while allowing them to stay at home and prevent the spread of illness,” says Erol Akdamar, president of Medical City Healthcare. “Based on the screening results, they will be directed to the appropriate level of care while protecting emergency and hospital resources for patients who need it the most.”
Visitors under the age of 16 and those with respiratory symptoms are being asked to not visit Medical City, and any visitor who has been in contact with an infected person should not visit any hospital at all. Patients and visitors are being directed to use specific entrances so that they can be properly screened for symptoms. One visitor per patient will be allowed, with certain exceptions.
“We recognize the importance of support of family and loved ones,” says Dr. Miguel Benet, Medical City Healthcare Chief Medical Officer, via release. “We encourage loved ones to consider using technology — like FaceTime and other apps — to keep in close contact with your loved ones while they are in the hospital. Our hospitals will have additional iPads available for patients who may not have their own device.”
At Texas Health Resources, the number of entrances has been reduced to funnel patients to screening stations, where everyone who enters will be checked. If they display a symptom, they will be required to wear a mask, and visitors will be limited to two per patient. In addition, all community events, including support group meetings, fitness center classes, and health lectures, will be canceled on campus.
Texas Health is educating clinicians on how to perform proper screenings for potential COVID-19 patients and is working with public health officials to ensure an accurate flow of information and make sure protocols are followed. If their jobs allow, employees are being asked to work from home.
“These are important steps to take as we focus on the safety and health of everyone – our patients, visitors, caregivers and people throughout the communities we serve,” read a quote from Barclay Berdan, CEO of Texas Health. “We think consumers will understand the reason for these measures and will fully support our efforts to control the spread of this virus.”