Sentara Healthcare now has access to commercial coronavirus tests; limits visitation

Sentara Healthcare now has access to tests for the coronavirus COVID-19 through commercial laboratories, the company said Wednesday.

In a statement announcing limited visitation at its hospitals in Virginia and North Carolina, Sentara Healthcare also mentioned the tests, saying results can take up to four days.

The commercial tests “are an option if patients do not meet criteria for testing by the state department of health and our medical staff believes the patient is still at high risk for COVID-19,” the statement said.

Sentara also confirmed that presumptive positive patients sought care at Sentara Leigh Hospital in Norfolk and Sentara Princess Anne Hospital in Virginia Beach.

Additionally, Sentara laboratories expect to be able to conduct COVID-19 testing in-house at regional sites in the next few weeks. The company is purchasing the needed equipment and creating a process to make sure testing can be turned around quickly, the statement said.

Optima Health is handling the COVID-19 testing as preventive care for infectious diseases screening. Optima Health is helping members manage testing and treatment for COVID-19 by:

  • Waiving out-of-pocket member costs associated with COVID-19 diagnostic testing at any in-network lab location for all commercial, Medicaid or Medicare Advantage members.
  • Offering tele-health visits free to members (i.e., no member co-pays or cost-share) for in-network virtual care partners. Tele-Health options include Sentara Video Visits between 7:00AM and 7:00PM and our 24-hour partner organization, MDLIVE.

To help stop the spread of the virus, all Sentara hospitals will allow only two visitors when visiting patients, emergency departments, and all other outpatient settings.

Visitors are asked not to come if they are sick with coughing, sneezing or fever, or if they have traveled internationally. This policy goes into effect Thursday, March 12, 2020.

All Sentara nursing centers, rehabilitation centers and the Assisted Living Village will also limit visitors to two per day. Visiting hours will be between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Visitors will be screened for signs of illness and travel histories before being allowed to enter. This is to ensure the safety of our most vulnerable patients and residents as well as our employees. This policy goes into effect Thursday, March 12.

Sentara recommends that if you have a respiratory illness that includes a fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath AND you meet travel or exposure criteria for COVID-19:

  • Call your healthcare provider to determine the safest screening method for you. If you are a Sentara patient, this may include a video visit.
  • Please consider a virtual visit to determine if you need further screening or testing. Many insurance plans, including Optima Health, will cover the member cost of testing for COVID-19. Options include Sentara Video Visits or MDLIVE.
  • If you have a respiratory illness that includes a fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath AND you meet travel or exposure criteria for COVID-19, AND you do not have a primary care physician, cannot participate in a virtual visit, or a visit has recommended further screening or testing for COVID-19, visit your local emergency department. Please call in advance so that infection prevention precautions may be taken to protect you, other patients, visitors and employees.

This story originally appeared on Read More local stories here.

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