COVID-19: While Greenwich Hospital Has a Specimen Collection Station, State Epidemiologist Says ‘Testing is Not the Answer’

On Tuesday Governor Ned Lamont gave an update on COVID-19 in Connecticut.

Lamont said Deidre Gifford, Commissioner of CT’s Dept of Social Services, is making sure that COVID testing is available at no cost.

“That’s part of the federal plan, but we’re making sure it happens right here in the state of Connecticut – Medicaid, those without documentation, make sure it’s covered in your insurance as well,” he said.

“We’d be in a very different position if we’d been able to do more testing earlier, but if people have flu-like symptoms and contact their doctor and get their permission, we now have 8, 9, or 10 hospitals doing drive-by swabs,” Lamont said.

Dr. Matthew Carter, the top epidemiologist for the CT Department of Public Health, said, “Testing is important, but it’s not what’s going to get us through this. It’s just one of the tools that we have. It’s our individual actions that’s will make a difference.”

“I know you may be getting different messages when you turn on the TV at night. The head of World Health Organization said, ‘The answer to this is testing testing testing.’ Testing is important, but it is not the answer.” – Dr. Matthew Carter,  CT Department of Public Health

Dr. Carter said the vast majority of individuals who get COVID-19 will not get very sick. “They may get a mild cold, feel a little bit achey,” he explained.

“Right now testing capacity is increasing every day,” he said. “But most of us will not need to be tested.”

Carter said what’s preventing more samples from being taken is that doctors’ offices do not have the required personal protective equipment.

He said the key is not the number of tests overall, but the number that are positive.

Of 248 tests so far in the state laboratory, 222 are negative.

“That’s just 26 positive,” he said. “That’s a low percentage. It won’t be long before we start seeing 40% to 50% of those tests are positive. What we’re looking for is an increase in positivity rate.”

Carter said, “At Greenwich Hospital they are working 24/7. The doctors and nurses have not been sleeping for days.”

“Right now we have 68 positives, you have to assume there are at least 100 people who have COVID-19 for every single positive, which puts us at around 6,000 or so, and that might be a low estimate.” – Dr. Matthew Carter,  CT Department of Public Health

Specimen Collection Station at Greenwich Hospital. Photo: Greenwich Hospital Facebook

Specimen Collection Station at Greenwich Hospital. Photo: Greenwich Hospital Facebook

On Tuesday Media Coordinator Magaly Olivero at Greenwich Hospital said that on March 9 the hospital established a specimen collection station to collect specimens from individuals who have a physician order.

The hospital then sends the specimens to an offsite lab where they can be tested for a number of respiratory viruses, potentially including COVID-19.

Olivero said patients should submit any charges to their insurance company.

“The station is located adjacent to the hospital, not in the hospital, and in that way we are protecting our staff and patients from coming into contact with anyone who has symptoms,” she said. “Patients who want to be tested don’t have to come into the hospital.”

Patients will receive results from their physician once the tests are processed and completed.

Olivero said the station has been collecting specimens from about 40 patients a day since opening.

“Greenwich Hospital established the station as a precautionary measure to safeguard the health of our patients and healthcare workers by limiting their exposure to individuals experiencing symptoms,” Olivero said.

Similar specimen collection stations are now open at other Yale New Haven Health hospitals, including Bridgeport Hospital, Yale New Haven Hospital and Laurence + Memorial Hospital.

Olivero said individuals who have flu-like symptoms including fever, cough, congestion, or shortness of breath, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if they have recently traveled from an area with community spread of COVID-19, should call their healthcare professional.

People with questions about COVID-19, can call the Yale New Haven Health COVID-19 call center seven days a week 7:00 am – 7:00 pm at 833-ASK-YNHH.

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