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 Beaumont Health officials and health care providers demonstrate the curbside screening process for patients at the Beaumont Royal Oak campus.

Beaumont Health officials and health care providers demonstrate the curbside screening process for patients at the Beaumont Royal Oak campus.

Photo by Jonathan Shead


Beaumont Health opens curbside screening, testing for COVID-19

By: Jonathan Shead | C&G Newspapers | Published March 16, 2020

Photo by Jonathan Shead

In an effort to continue to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19 and ensure individuals are receiving the proper care, Beaumont Health has opened curbside screening at all eight of its hospitals. 

“We’re dealing with an unprecedented situation right now, and I know you all can feel it,” said Beaumont Director of Infectious Disease and Epidemiology Dr. Nick Gilpin of the novel coronavirus, “but I’ve been really pleased with the response from Beaumont Health. We’ve really risen up to make sure that we’re taking care of the people in our community, as well as our staff and health care providers to make sure we can continue to be on the front lines to provide care for our patients.” 

The curbside screening, which began March 14, has seen a rapid influx of people — from roughly 50 on the first day to almost 200 and rising the next day  — Beaumont Royal Oak Chief Department of Emergency Medicine Dr. James Ziadeh said. 

Ziadeh’s hope however is to see those numbers begin to decrease as time goes on and “people become a little bit more comfortable with how things are going.” 

During the process, people are greeted one by one by a health care professional at their car window. The health care worker proceeds to ask them demographic questions, about their travel history and/or any history of comorbidities, and what symptoms they’re feeling before taking their temperature. 

Ziadeh said those with the highest risk of severe illness from the disease — elderly patients, people with underlying medical conditions, and/or patients who are immunocompromised or who have coronary disease — may be administered a COVID-19 test right then on-site, though tests are limited due to shortages locally, statewide and across the nation. 

Gilpin added that Beaumont would like to get to a point where it can increase its bandwidth and test everyone, though shortages are currently a major barrier. 

“I think for us, the most important thing is to identify those high-risk individuals,” Ziadeh said. “That’s an important population of patients we want to make sure get tested if they’re having symptoms. For the most part, most patients don’t need to be tested, even if they’re having some mild symptoms, and right now we have a shortage of supplies. … We have to make sure that we’re doing it on appropriate patients.” 

Tests that are administered on-site are sent to one of three labs: a state lab, for those with the highest risk due to the lab’s expedient turnaround of results; a private lab; or a reference lab, where most low-risk tests are sent. Individuals who take a test are sent home until their results are received. 

Beaumont has seen four of its patients test presumptive positive for the novel coronavirus, three of whom were directed to go home and quarantine and the other of which is hospitalized. Beaumont officials declined to release any identifying information on the four individuals, saying that information is available through the Oakland County Health Division. 

Most patients that have come through the curbside screening process are “quite well,” Ziadeh said. 

People should call Beaumont Health’s COVID-19 hotline at (800) 592-4784 or talk to their doctor about their symptoms to determine whether it may be necessary to be screened. The process takes approximately 30-40 minutes overall, though wait times could change based on demand. 

He said Beaumont is still working on determining the daily capacity each hospital may be able to handle for curbside services. Like the limited supply for testing and screening, Gilpin said, Beaumont is still also dealing with shortages in protective equipment, like masks and gowns. 

“We’re trying to work around some supply bottlenecks,” he said, adding that screening is only meant for people with COVID-19 symptoms like a fever, coughing or shortness of breath. “We’re really hoping to keep the flow of patients coming through our doors as under control as we can.” 

“I think it’s important every hospital has a surge plan in place so we can manage the influx of patients,” Ziadeh added. “Right now the volumes have been pretty consistent, although we’ve seen a shift in volume from patients that are worried about having coronavirus versus our sort of standard emergency department type visit.” 

Gilpin said individuals experiencing medical issues other than COVID-19 or who may need immediate medical assistance should not be afraid to come to the hospital. That’s what it's there for. He said for those with virus-like symptoms who aren’t sure, call the hotline first. 

On top of curbside screening and a COVID-19 hotline, Beaumont Health has also taken steps to mitigate the spread of the virus by severely limiting visitors, except for emergency circumstances, and by starting to cancel elective surgeries, per the Surgeon General’s recommendation, to ensure staff and hospital space aren’t overbooked. 

Beaumont Royal Oak’s curbside testing is open 6 a.m.-2 a.m., and hours of operation vary at all other seven hospitals based on staffing available. For individual hospital screening hours or more information on Beaumont Health’s COVID-19 services and actions, visit beaumont.org/health-wellness/coronavirus