BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - City-parish officials and healthcare leaders are preparing for a surge in COVID-19 cases in Louisiana’s capital.
The coronavirus testing site at Baton Rouge General Mid-City will operate three days a week, for an hour and a half each day. The schedule will allow for greater conservation of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which will help protect medical staff at the testing site.
According to Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, the community testing site will be open from 12:30 p.m. until 2 p.m. only on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
The orders must be faxed into the site by the patient’s physician. Anyone with written orders will not be admitted. This is to prevent people from using fake written orders.
Officials with BRG say they are preparing for an uptick in patients and are calling on clinically trained professionals to help them in the fight against COVID-19.
“We have spent the last several weeks mobilizing every resource we have to prepare,” a spokesperson for the hospital said in a statement on Monday, March 30. “We have thousands of team members working every day to care for patients.”
Hospital staff say they have units that are not being used to their full capacity. In an effort to make the Mid City hospital the center of the community’s surge plan, new beds will be opened as part of an acute-care hospital. BRG will work with other hospitals in the area to care for COVID patients who aren’t able to get care elsewhere. Officials hope to have a portion of the hospital open by Friday, April 3.
They, along with Governor John Bel Edwards, are encouraging any and all clinically trained professionals to consider employment in the healthcare industry.
“Clinicians who work in surgery centers that are currently closed, clinics that aren’t seeing patients right now, or even people who may have transitioned into other careers – we need you!” a spokesperson said.
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BRG Mid-City on Florida Boulevard opened up Monday, March 16 as the main drive-thru location to test patients for the coronavirus.
The testing center is staffed with workers from local healthcare centers including Baton Rouge General, Our Lady of the Lake, Ochsner-Baton Rouge, Woman’s Hospital, and Baton Rouge Clinic.
The testing center aims to reduce the number of patients going to local emergency rooms for COVID-19 testing and reduce the risk of exposure to patients, visitors, and medical staff. The drive-thru process eliminates the need for patients to get out of their car and interact with others.
Just because there are no more tests at the facility does not mean there are absolutely no tests in the Baton Rouge area. Dr. Dawn Marcelle with the Louisiana Department of Health tells WAFB there’re still test kits available.
“Testing supplies are limited and so they are being used judiciously for those who are in the greatest need who meet the criteria for testing,” said Marcelle.
For those who do qualify for a test, Marcelle says they should not panic and just run out looking for a test. Instead, she says it’s also more important than ever for people to adhere to those restrictions from the governor’s office and avoid close contact with others.
“That can’t be emphasized enough and that is precisely why the governor has made the proclamations and decisions that he has made and in the public health community and the medical community we absolutely support,” she said.
In order to be tested, patients must have an order from a healthcare provider, who will order the tests based on a patient’s COVID-19 symptoms, including fever, a cough, and/or shortness of breath. The site is not for patients who need emergency care.
Patients will enter the testing site on Wabash Boulevard from North Boulevard, which is the back side of BRG’s Mid City campus, near the exterior entrance of the former ER. The testing center will collect your information, while you remain in your car. Once your information is collected, a clinician will perform a nasal swab without you ever leaving your vehicle. Your swab will be processed and will take approximately three to four business days. Results will be sent back to your health care provider to discuss the next steps with you.
If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, talk to your healthcare provider, who will fax the orders to the testing site. If you don’t have a doctor, please call 211.
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