GREENSBORO — Triad hospital systems are asking people not to show up at emergency departments for COVID-19 tests.
Cone Health, which includes Annie Penn Hospital in Reidsville, Novant Health and Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist collectively asked last week in a news release that large numbers of people are seeking the tests at their emergency facilities. However, the hospital representatives say emergency departments aren’t the place for routine COVID-19 testing.
People wanting COVID-19 tests are causing longer waits in already crowded emergency departments, according to the news release.
“(I)t is imperative that our communities seek the care they need, when they need it — in the right place,” the hospital systems said in the release. People simply seeking COVID-19 testing may cause delays for people with true emergencies, officials said.
Those wanting COVID-19 testing are asked to make an appointment at ConeHealth.com/testing, NovantHealth.org/CovidTest or wakehealth.edu/Coronavirus/COVID-19-Testing, or go to their neighborhood pharmacy or other testing location.
Many testing sites are intended for people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and those with symptoms. People seeking travel, return-to-work or return-to-school clearance are asked to use the NCDHHS Test Site Finder (https://bit.ly/3zkah0o) to find a location that better suits their needs.
Hospital emergency departments are already busy with a surge in COVID-19 cases, seasonal influenza and traditional respiratory infections. Area health systems ask that people use virtual care, urgent care or their regular doctor whenever possible and avoid coming to the emergency department for nonemergency care.
According to the hospital systems, here are five common reasons that people come to an emergency department for care that can be addressed elsewhere:
Advice and treatment for simple COVID-19 infections/exposures.
Ear and eye infections.
Skin problems (minor burns, rashes, and insect bites).
Muscle or joint pain.
While virtual options are often covered by insurance, people should contact their insurer beforehand to learn about what their policy covers.