Important update regarding testing locations for suspected COVID-19 patients

MLH medical staff,

The new coronavirus (COVID-19 or SARS-CoV2) has become pandemic throughout the world. In the local area, Montgomery County has become a high incidence point for coronavirus in the state of PA. Most patients who are infected with the coronavirus develop a mild respiratory illness that will not require either hospitalization or ED visitation. Again, the majority of COVID-19 patients can be diagnosed and treated as outpatient without over utilizing hospital facilities. Our greatest concern at this time is preserving hospital care and resources for those who require admission.

We are in the process of setting up outpatient centers for COVID-19 testing and will share more detailed information with you all when available. The Montgomery County and PA DOHs have become overwhelmed with requests for testing. Therefore, we require commercial testing such as Quest labs to assist in diagnosing COVID-19 patients. If you have a patient that you are concerned has a coronaviral infection and has mild symptoms or has been exposed to this virus and is asymptomatic, please do not send them to one of the MLH emergency departments.

Moving forward, the pathway for diagnosing a coronavirus patient who has exposure or mild symptoms will be through the outpatient testing centers. Please advise your patient regarding self-quarantining at home until test results are available.

If your patient is experiencing mild to severe symptoms with fever, it is appropriate to direct them to the ED. This patient population will hopefully be tested via the state lab to obtain a rapid result within 24 hours. If positive, the patient will continue under appropriate PPE isolation. If their test is negative, isolation techniques can be discontinued. This will help maintain our resources for those patients that require ongoing isolation.

Until widespread testing is available throughout the area, we need to limit access to the ED for illnesses that require ongoing medical care. Thank you for your cooperation.

Mark Ingerman, MD

System Chief of Infectious Disease

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