Testing

Piedmont HealthCare employees were set to screen patients for the coronavirus in their cars at sites in Mooresville and Statesville in March.

Piedmont HealthCare is manning a site in Mooresville and another in Statesville to screen patients for the coronavirus.

Piedmont started the service on Friday in Statesville and will expand into Mooresville on Monday.

“Our goal is to educate, to help people understand the facts and feel like they’re being taken care of,” Piedmont Health spokeswoman Riley Antonek said.

People who think they may have the coronavirus are to call Piedmont’s hotline at 833-463-6742, where staff will screen them via phone. If that staff member thinks the individual may have the coronavirus, they will schedule an online video screening or direct the individual to one of the sites. People cannot go directly to the screening sites.

At the sites, people will have their temperature taken and symptoms checked. Staff will test them for the flu, which takes about 15 minutes. If those results come back negative and the patient falls in the at-risk population, they might be tested for the coronavirus.

All of this is done from the patient’s car.

Antonek said high-risk patients include people more than 65, immuno-compromised individuals and those battling other illnesses.

Piedmont has a very limited amount of tests, so they have to be sparing with who they decide to test. Antonek said the provider is not receiving results from the tests until a week to 10 days after the patient is tested. At that point, the patient could be recovering.

Antonek said another goal of Piedmont was to keep the sick and healthy separate, so healthy people coming to the provider’s offices feel safe to receive treatment for issues not related to the coronavirus.

As of Friday afternoon, the Statesville site had screened 16 people.

While there is no treatment for the coronavirus as of yet, Antonek said Piedmont staff can treat coughs and encourage people to self-quarantine until they have no symptoms for three days.

For most people, symptoms of the coronavirus are easily manageable. Antonek said the best advice Piedmont staff has for people is stay home.

“There is not a huge advantage to getting the test,” said Dr. Robert Kimball, Piedmont’s director of urgent and express care.

He said most young people will not be very sick. People who do have extreme symptoms should go to the emergency room to be evaluated.

“The biggest part of this is the uncertainty,” Kimball said. “Uncertainty bothers us more than bad news sometimes.”

Piedmont CEO Jeff Smith reiterated going to the screening site was far from a guaranteed coronavirus test.

“We’re trying to help the community understand what the symptoms are,” Smith said. “We’re trying to allay the fears in the community.”

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