BG FHH COVID Testing

A health care worker in protective gear holds a COVID-19 testing kit outside a vehicle at a drive-through screening and testing Wednesday afternoon at Frederick Health Hospital’s Toll House facility.

Cars lined up outside the urgent care and medical offices on Toll House Avenue.

First, the cars pulled up to a yellow tent, where by phone, drivers or passengers answered screening questions. If they met screening criteria, they advanced to the next stage.

As each car pulled up, a health care professional, clad in a gown, goggles and an N95 mask, came out and swabbed the nose of the driver or passenger.

This is what drive-through testing looked like in Frederick County on Wednesday.

Frederick Health Hospital has started offering drive-through testing for COVID-19, a disease caused by the new coronavirus. The hospital started on Wednesday with a soft launch for the testing, which is set up across the street from the hospital.

The dry run went “beautifully,” said Dr. Manny Casiano, the hospital’s chief medical officer.

Not everyone can be tested, Casiano said. People need a doctor’s referral for the test, and they need to meet testing criteria, which includes having symptoms such as shortness of breath, fever and cough, as well as travel history, contact with someone with COVID-19 or being at risk due to age or a chronic health condition.

While the hospital is offering testing, materials are limited, which means it cannot test everyone, even though hospital administrators wish they could. People with concerns but no symptoms will be turned away, Casiano said.

When people drive through the testing line, they will be screened, by phone, by an employee using the screening questions. Those who pass the criteria will move to the testing portion. Those who don’t will be directed out of the parking lot.

The hospital sent criteria to doctor’s offices so that they won’t refer people who do not meet the criteria, Casiano said. The last thing he wants is for people to wait 30 minutes or an hour and then be turned away.

“We don’t want to waste people’s time and get people upset, obviously,” Casiano said.

Those who go for the testing will roll down their windows to receive a collection kit. The health care professional swabs their nose. With that sample, the hospital will be able to test for two types of influenza strains and another respiratory disease, known as respiratory syncytial virus.

Those three tests can be done at the laboratory at Frederick Health Hospital, which means results can come back within a day. If the person is negative for those three tests, the hospital will send the sample to Quest Diagnostics, which will test it for COVID-19. It will take three to five days to find out the results, Casiano said.

The hospital does not need to take a separate swab for each of the tests, he said.

“You get everything for one swab,” Casiano said. “It’s a miserable swab, but it’s everything for one.”

BG FHH COVID Testing

A health care worker talks by cellphone to a person in a nearby car at a drive-through COVID-19 screening and testing site Wednesday afternoon.

After the swabbing is done, patients are sent home with information about making follow-up appointments, if positive for the flu or RSV, and about self-isolating to prevent the spread of any of the diseases.

While awaiting test results, people are urged to self-isolate.

If someone tests positive for COVID-19 and feels short of breath or has an emergency, they should call 911 or go to the emergency department. Those people should call ahead to let the hospital know they tested positive for the disease, according to the handout.

The hospital will offer drive-through testing from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., which Casiano admits is limited. Hours will depend on the hospital’s supply, he said.

The hospital has a limited number of sample collection kits — about 600. The hospital uses about 40 to 60 a day and plans on using 40 to 50 each day for the drive-through testing, which will allow them to run the testing at the hospital and drive-through site for about a week, Casiano said.

If collection kits run low, they’ll have to stop or shorten the hours for drive-through testing, he said. That decision will be made on a day-to-day basis. If the hospital gets more supplies, they can expand hours.

The hospital cannot test the kits itself, as it does not have the materials needed to test them, Casiano said. That’s why samples will be sent to Quest.

BG FHH COVID Testing

A health care worker in protective gear holds a COVID-19 testing kit outside a vehicle at a Frederick Health Hospital screening and testing site Wednesday afternoon.

The tests do not cost patients anything, Casiano said. They do cost the hospital something, but Casiano said he is not worried about that.

“We’re doing this because it’s important to do and because it’s serving our community,” he said.

Testing frustrations

As Frederick Health Hospital starts doing more testing, the number of positive cases should rise. This does not necessarily mean there are more cases, just that more people are being tested.

And while testing is now more easy available, there is some frustration with the lack of testing, Casiano said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s stance is that testing is not needed for people with mild symptoms since there is no treatment for the disease besides isolation and rest.

“I’m not sure that that really takes into account the concerns, the worries, the frustration of the public, who really want to know, ‘Am I at risk for this’?” Casiano said. “‘Do I have this?’ ‘Am I at risk for giving it to the rest of my family?’”

Besides the 600 sample collections that the hospital has, it is hard to know how many sample kits can be tested in the county or the state, said Dr. Barbara Brookmyer, Frederick County health officer.

“The U.S. has a decentralized, privatized healthcare system, which means that we don’t know what tests may be ordered by private healthcare providers,” Brookmyer said in an email.

The health department does not have a quota or limit for how many tests it can authorize, Brookmyer said.

Those who have symptoms and want to be tested should contact their primary care provider, or urgent care if they do not have a primary care doctor, she said.

“Providers are able to evaluate their patients and decide if they need to be tested for a variety of conditions that could be the cause of their symptoms,” she said.

Those who do not have symptoms do not need to be tested, Brookmyer said.

Testing challenges do exist, Brookmyer said after a town hall last week.

Materials are limited, so while in theory everyone could be tested, that is not the case in reality. Testing, up until recently, has been prioritized for the sickest patients who needed rapid intervention and hospitalization, Brookmyer said.

For people like Mari Ward, a 23-year-old Frederick resident, that means they may or may not have the disease.

Ward’s symptoms began on March 10. They felt like allergies, with congestion and an itchy throat. That turned into a swollen throat, heavy, tight chest, chills, sweats and congestion.

“The symptoms were very similar to the flu, except the heaviness in my chest,” Ward said in an email. “It didn’t hurt to breathe but it felt uncomfortable.”

Ward went to Righttime Medical Care on March 12, where she tested negative for the flu and strep throat. The urgent care did not have collection kits available, and the doctor she saw told her to get tested if she began to feel pain in her chest and lungs.

“He said it’s possible I may have contracted COVID-19, but there’s no way to be sure without the test,” Ward said.

Her doctor advised her not to panic or worry unless her symptoms got worse, which they did not. They changed, she said. He also told her to rest and that she could continue with the congestion medication she was already taking, as well as make sure to stay hydrated and eat.

Ward decided to stay home and use her sick time while recovering.

As of March 15, Ward’s throat was still swollen, but she was less feverish. She also had an irritating cough.

“I have not been officially tested, to be transparent,” Ward said in the email. “Due to my work environment, symptoms, and what I’ve heard from news and professionals, I think it’s very plausible for me to have contracted the virus, however I cannot say with 100% certainty.”

Follow Heather Mongilio on Twitter: @HMongilio.

Heather Mongilio is the health and Fort Detrick reporter for the Frederick News-Post. She can be reached at hmongilio@newspost.com.

(38) comments

FCPS-Principal

Well the Utah Jazz all got tested in an instant. Pence and his wife get tested over and over. If you have the money there is no shortage of tests. Maga!!

jayel86

This is so dumb. Oh well, its not going to stop. Just embrace it at this point. At least I see people outside actually taking walks and enjoying nature now. Its kind of like a national vacation.

Comment deleted.
gabrielshorn2013

While I can't condone violence Alice, it is clear that jayel is full of 💩. While they continue to say that most will not suffer severe symptoms, they forget that 15 percent are hospitalized, and some of those (1 to 3%) will die. How effing selfish!

jayel86

Gab, calm down. Stressing yourself out like this could lower your immune response to your impending infection.

alanbrooks

Frederick still has requires "travel history, (or) contact with someone with COVID-19" for testing even though the CDC constantly insist that this is no longer required. So the vast majority of cases are being missed.

samkallison

The really frustrating part is that some people are carriers of the virus, but show no symptoms and have the ability to infect other people. This is why EVERYONE should be tested, not just people who have symptoms. This would help "flatten the curve" if we knew who the carriers were so that they could quarantine themselves before infecting everyone around them.

sevenstones1000

Someone please let us know the procedure for people who live alone and are too sick to drive themselves or do not have a car.

I called 211 and they could only suggest you put a towel around your face and go door to door trying to find a neighbor who doesn’t mind being exposed to coronavirus to drive you.

awteam2000

That’s crazy.

mrnatural1

sevenstones,

Whaa?!

"...put a towel around your face and go door to door trying to find a neighbor who doesn’t mind being exposed to coronavirus to drive you."

I hope you're joking.

sevenstones1000

Mr Natural, I wish I were joking. I finally said to the woman on 211 “Are you making this up?” I still have no idea how a person who lives alone or has no car and has been told to go to the drive through is supposed to get there. I don’t think anyone has bought about that.

threecents

If you have cough and fever, I suggest staying home and treating like the flu with rest, fluids and pain relievers. However, if you also have difficulty breathing, then you need to talk to your doctor or call 911. Then a doctor can determine whether to put you on a respirator and an IV.

FCPS-Principal

What is the towel supposed to achieve?

awteam2000

Gov. Hogan said Tuesday that Maryland plans to shut down all of its Motor Vehicle Administration emission testing sites and turn them into drive-through sites for coronavirus testing.

sevenstones1000

Frederick veip already shut down

thump1202

Hopefully test production ramps up and more countries can approach this the way S Korea did. It's hard to believe the current numbers are anywhere near accurate with how shady the Chinese government is and the lack of testing in most countries. Having more realistic numbers would increase medical care, reduce the reported fatality rate and perhaps help calm the panic.

bpsws

How many times over the past weeks have we heard 45 and his minions say, "We have enough tests for every American?" Yet, I've read multiple articles just this morning that say, "We can't test everybody - not enough kits."

Obadiah Plainsmen

This might help you understand.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/what-went-wrong-with-coronavirus-testing-in-the-us

CurlyBrian

Good article, but what is missing is what was happening with testing elsewhere in the world. They had been performing large scale public testing for a month while the CDC/FDA got their act together. The USA even rejected working WHO tests, unbelievable.

gabrielshorn2013

CB, Europe has been testing anyone who requested a test for a while now. How has it abated the epidemic there? It hasn't. Every country in Europe is declaring massive increases in disease. Testing only works if the person who is infected is quarantined, by force if necessary, and their contacts are similarly quarantined. The uninfected must also realize the life as they knew it is over for a long time. They must avoid other people whenever possible, and constantly sanitize their hands after touching anything. Epidemics don't respect excuses, and you will become infected if you let your defenses down. Those jackasses on "Spring Break" in Daytona Beach displayed the exact opposite behavior of what is required, stating "If I get corona, I get corona. I don't care as long as I can still party!" The beaches are full of spring break revelers whose colleges have suspended classes. Can't fix stupid, and no amount of testing will overcome that level of carelessness. You don't stay negative forever.

awteam2000

South Korea was very successful with swift ‘mass testing’ now up to 20 thousand test a day, while Europe and the USA failed to realize the need sooner, not prepared, allowing for community spread and implementation late and small in numbers, slower in implementing and poorly orchestrated. But we are beyond that point...

It’s time for a uniformed national coordinated plan, not everyone doing their own thing. - a national draconian directive - enforced social distancing across the nation medical care and supplies wrapped up. ‘All hands on-deck’. Possibly, martial law imposed directly by the military - yes, control over normal time movement of citizens.

gabrielshorn2013

Aw, are you prepared to declare martial law in the US, and suspend the rights that Americans enjoy? How well do you think that will fly? Would you agree, as a part of martial law, to jail anyone who violates a shelter in place order? Without that, it's just pissing in the wind. As you saw in my previous posts, the spring break beaches are crowded, and the bars set up on the beach are nutz to nutz crowded. How will testing overcome that mentality? It won't, and hasn't done a damned thing in Europe, has it. The US is not China or Korea, whose social norms are far different than those of the US. That horse has been shot out from under you on this issue, yet you persist? Cobbler, stick to your last.

gabrielshorn2013

BTW aw, the general public has to realize that life as they know it is over, and they have to realize that the way they used to operate in public is over, until a successful vaccine is approved by FDA. That could be up to 18 months. As soon as any restrictions are relaxed, the epidemic will bounce back by all epidemiological models. This situation has been predicted for decades, yet has not been properly planned for by the Trump, Obama, Bush II, or Clinton administrations. This is "hot potato" and Trump got caught when the music stopped. Anyone with a background in the public health sciences knew this. Apparently you didn't get the memo. The rest of us sure did, long ago.

threecents

Of course testing will help identify who has it and needs to be quarantined - whether or not they have symptoms. It also helps determine hot spots and what hospitals will need extra respirators and extra beds. Testing will also help us determine when this is all over and let us know if it starts up again.

Obadiah Plainsmen

If the spring breakers are not taking this seriously the governor’s of affected States can easily implement a 10am -10pm curfew for anyone under 25 yrs old.

gabrielshorn2013

Three, as you well know, without full authority of law ( e.g. declaring martial law), there is no way in hell to enforce any testing results. There is nothing to require testing either. If someone thinks that they will be under house arrest due to a test result, where is the enticement to get tested in the first place? There is none, and without that, and no mandatory requirement for everyone to be tested at specific intervals, testing becomes irrelevant. Then what???

phydeaux994

Three weeks ago pence said there would be 1M done at the end of the week and 4M the following week, which was last weekend. This past Monday the Admiral said there would be 1.9M done by the end of this week. Yesterday Pence said 4000 had been done. On Monday there were about 10 present at the Task Force Press Conference. Today there were 4. Dr. Fauci wasn’t there yesterday or today. He was kicked off the Task Force Team because he wouldn’t stop telling us how bad it could be, and he was getting all the attention by the Press. Trump totally controls the narrative now and answers all the questions by the Press, making sure that he keeps saying what a fantastic, wonderful job he’s doing. And Mike says what a fabulous job Trump is doing if Trump asks him to answer a question he can’t spin. DJ Trump is trying his best to withhold the truth from the Public. Fortunately, the Governors are filling us in.

gabrielshorn2013

Oh please phy that is 🐃💩, and if you were in public health, you'd know it. Anthony Fauci is all over the airwaves; radio, TV, and cable. I just watched an hour-long PBS special, and he had a very good interview and presentation. Nobody is making Dr. Fauci shut up. Do you really think he would if ordered? Oh hell no! He has too much integrity, and a big following due to his credentials in the public health arena. Not even Trump can overcome that.

gabrielshorn2013

Phy, I am watching Dr. Fauci on the NBS coronavirus special right now. Not muzzled at all. Also speaking is Dr. Joseph Fair, virologist and epidemiologist.

sevenstones1000

should a person with a high fever and shortness of breath really be driving a car?

thump1202

Hopefully they'd use the telehealth option first to get a recommendation from a doctor on whether they need the test. If they can get a family member who would have been exposed anyhow to drive them or if they have a painting kit sitting around, put on a face mask to limit an uber driver or whoever else's exposure to their breath. People make reckless decisions when they feel threatened, hopefully by the time they reach the 60+ "danger zone" they'll have enough wisdom to slow down and carefully consider their actions.

sevenstones1000

People who live alone have no one to drive them. They will have to drive themselves. Painting kit? What are you even talking about? No uber will pick up a sick person and sit in a long testing line with them.

Are there volunteer drivers out there that people can call?

threecents

Seven, If the person can't drive or get a ride, then couldn't they call for an ambulance?

sevenstones1000

Threecents - is that what we are supposed to do? Will the ambulance sit in the drive through? I honestly don’t know. No one is saying.

steelersfan2005

they should make you get an order from your doctor prior, so that we don't have 6 hour lines just because people have a runny nose.

bnick467

The article states in the 7th paragraph that a doctor's referral is needed before anyone is tested. Maybe read more than just the headline?

Kelpfarming

Gubmint people are so paranoid

threecents

Is that how you talk without your teeth in?

Builder68

For the record: The Frederick Health Hospital main number is 240-566-3300.

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