Beaumont establishes COVID-19 hotline, restrictions for visitors, curbside screening

By: Jonathan Shead | C&G Newspapers | Published March 13, 2020

METRO DETROIT — As statewide action continues to be rapidly put in place to stop the potential spread of COVID-19, Beaumont Health has joined in to help by creating a novel coronavirus hotline and by implementing visitor safety restrictions at all eight of its hospitals to mitigate the virus’ spread.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered during a press conference in the late evening March 12 that all K-12 schools — public, private and charter — close effective March 16 through April 5. Announcements came later on closing dining in at restaurants — but allowing deliveries and pickups — and limiting public gatherings.

State health and Beaumont Health officials say individuals should stay calm and continue to take the common sense hygienic steps to ensuring they’re avoiding the virus.

 

COVID-19 hotline
Beaumont Health Chief Nursing Officer Susan Grant hopes their new hotline can help decrease the swell of anxieties people may be feeling. The hotline will also help categorize and direct callers to the appropriate level of care they may need based on their symptoms and other risk factors.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, coughing — usually dry — and shortness of breath. Individuals should seek immediate medical attention if they begin to experience difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or the inability to arouse, and/or bluish lips or face, on top of these other symptoms.

According to the Oakland County Health Division, the immediate health risk of COVID-19 to the general public is considered low. Some people that may be at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness include older adults and those with serious, chronic medical conditions, including heart and/or lung disease, or diabetes.

“There’s a lot of anxiety out there, and I think the way we deal with anxiety is to get people informed. The hotline can help provide information that people need or want,” Grant said. “We also strongly encourage people to go to our website. … It’s important to stay calm. We’re prepared for this as health care providers and health care givers. We can handle this, but we do need to work with the public to make sure we are seeing the patients who really need to be seen.”

Beaumont Health’s COVID-19 hotline can be reached 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on weekends by calling (800) 592-4784. More information can also be found at beaumont.org/coronavirus.

Other hotlines are available in Michigan and the United States, including Oakland County, (248) 858-1000; the state of Michigan, (888) 535-6136; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (800) 232-4636.

 

Visitor restrictions
As of 9 a.m. March 13, visitor restrictions were put in place at Beaumont’s eight hospitals across the region to mitigate the potential spread of the virus to health care workers and other patients at the hospital. Grant said the restrictions are indefinite until Beaumont feels COVID-19 is no longer a threat.

According to Beaumont’s Medical Director of Infectious Disease and Epidemiology Dr. Nick Gilpin, that may be for quite some time.

“I’m going to follow the guidance of a lot of my colleagues. … I think this is very much just the beginning. Until this point, our testing has really been a limiting factor,” he said. “We’re not seeing anywhere close to what’s really out there. … Eventually, you’re going to see that testing start to catch up. Then it will become more of a community illness, and I don’t know when it’s going to stop.”

Beaumont’s visitor restrictions will be enforced for all friends, family and vendors, though that excludes volunteers of the hospitals.

No visitors will be allowed in rooms of patients with pending or positive COVID-19 test results, except under extreme circumstances. Teens under age 16 will not be permitted into the hospital, except under extreme circumstances.

Patients at the hospital for other medical reasons will be allowed one visitor who can remain in the hospital room during their visit, though once visiting is complete, visitors are not permitted to loiter in the hospital common areas. All visitors will be screened prior to entering for symptoms of respiratory illness. Individuals showing symptoms will not be allowed to enter.

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.

 

Testing and taking precautions
Testing is available at all eight Beaumont hospitals, Gilpin said, in conjunction with state and local health authorities. He hopes Beaumont can soon roll out its own tests so they won’t have to go through public health officials to get it done, but “that’s still some time away at this point.”

Gilbin said COVID-19 should be used as a reminder to practice good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette — “things we should have been doing all along.”

“Every once in a while, something comes along and reminds us we have to do these things. This is an opportunity to go back and relearn these basics — making sure we’re not going out and traveling when sick, making sure we’re washing our hands and covering our coughs, avoiding mass gatherings this time of year when there’s a real potential that there are sick people out there. You might be taking the right precautions, but that doesn’t mean that people around you are taking the same precautions.

“Overall, I think the message needs to be, don’t panic. It’s OK to be concerned, but panicking is not a good thing,” he added.

“No more shaking hands right now,” Grant added. “There is nothing wrong with an elbow bump. … Let’s practice good hygiene, keep our hands clean and stay calm.”

 

Curbside screenings
All eight Beaumont hospitals are now offering curbside screening for individuals who show symptoms associated with COVID-19. If medical staff administering the curbside service believe a person needs to be tested, a test will be administered onsite and sent to a lab for results.

Beaumont Health officials recommend people call the COVID-19 hotline or talk with their doctor to determine whether screening may be necessary for them.

Beaumont Royal Oak’s Chief Department of Emergency Medicine Dr. James Ziadeh said curbside screening and testing is primarily for those with the highest risk — elderly patients, people with underlying medical conditions and/or patients who are immunocompromised or who have coronary disease.

Patients should expect the screening process, including wait times, to take approximately 30-40 minutes.

Ziadeh said no one will be turned away from a curbside screening, though testing will be limited, focusing on those with the highest risk because there is a shortage of testing kits and supplies locally, statewide and nationally.

Curbside screening hours vary by hospital location. Individuals should check beaumont.org/health-wellness/coronavirus for more information.

More information on COVID-19 can be found at michigan.gov/coronavirus or cdc.gov/coronavirus.