Porter Hospital is setting up drive-through COVID-19 testing


MEDICAL ASSISTANT MATTHEW Evans, left, and Registered Nurse Liza Eddy stock supplies at a drive-through COVID-19 testing facility that Porter Hospital set up in its South parking lot this morning in response to the coronavirus emergency. Before heading to the testing center, call your primary care physician if you feel like you are getting sick. Independent photo/Steve James

THE DRIVE-THROUGH COVID-19 testing service is located in the South parking lot of Middlebury's Porter Hospital. The service is not equipped to handle patients who just show up -- all people who think they need testing must be referred by a physician or other health care provider. Independent photo/Steve James
One of the main goals of this triage line is to redirect all coronavirus patient calls and inquiries away from Porter clinic offices." — Porter Medical Center spokesman Ron Hallman

When this story about a new Porter Medical Center COVID-19 drive through testing service was posted briefly online earlier today some readers failed to read the whole story and headed right to Porter for testing. Don't do that. This testing service is by referral only and community members with symptoms seeking a test should call their primary care provider for information about this service and testing. Don't just show up hoping to get a test; Porter, like all other hospitals, is not equipped to handle drop-ins for COVID-19 testing.

MIDDLEBURY — Porter Medical Center on Monday, March 16, set up a new “drive-through” COVID-19 testing service on its South Street campus in Middelbury.

The service is located in Porter’s south parking lot, at a modular building that most recently housed Patient Financial Services. Those financial services staff have been relocated to another part of the Porter campus.

Operating hours for the drive-through are Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., until further notice. Patients are asked not to just show up at the testing center. Those who feel sick — with a cough and a fever, or difficulty breathing — must first call their health care provider, rather than show up in person, Porter officials said.

The facility on Monday was also setting up a centralized COVID-19 triage line that will be staffed by Nurse Practitioner Kara Pool-Krok-Horton and a patient access center employee. At this moment, the phone triage line will be available Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but this might change over time, according to Porter officials.

One of the main goals of this triage line is to redirect all coronavirus patient calls and inquiries away from Porter clinic offices, Porter Medical Center spokesman Ron Hallman said.

Horton, or another covering health care provider, will triage patients and decide if they should be tested. If testing is indicated, Horton will order the requisite testing through the Vermont Department of Health, and proceed according to its instructions. A message about the testing will be sent back to the patient’s primary care provider. Once available, testing results will be entered into the computer system and reported to the patient along and his or her primary care office.

Hospital officials transfer calls to the centralized COVID-19 triage line for anyone who:

•  Mentions coronavirus.

•  Complains about fever, shortness of breath or other respiratory discomfort.

“It’s likely we will revisit the above criteria as the day/week progresses,” Hallman said. “Given the fact the situation is evolving, we anticipate the number of calls to change and evolve as well.”

In other news about Porter Medical Center:

Porter Hospital and Helen Porter Health Care and Rehabiliation has already started restricting visitors. Click here to read the story.

 

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