Geisinger outlines COVID-19 testing procedures

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — As the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise, hospitals in our area are advising people how to handle testing for the virus. Although it may be tempting to head straight to the doctor’s if you’re having symptoms, Geisinger urges everyone to refrain from just showing up.

No one wants to be in an emergency room and Geisinger is asking people to avoid the ER along with urgent care clinics and doctors’ offices if you fear you have COVID-19.

“We’re trying to maintain social distance in the waiting room of our facilities and that depends of course, on how many people seek care at the same time,” Geisinger chief medical officer Dr. Gerald Maloney said.

Instead Geisinger’s chief medical officer recommends people with mild symptoms to call their primary care doctor or Geisinger’s nurse triage line for testing.The number for the nurse triage hotline is 570-284-3657 and select Option 3. Some people feel torn about the regulations.

“It makes me feel comfortable knowing that there wouldn’t be like an overwhelming amount of people when I go, but at the same time, I think if people are sick, they should be able to show up,” Cassandra Lockhart of Pittston said.

Lockhart and her friend, Jessica Sleboda of Larksville, stopped at the pharmacy to pick up cold and flu medicine as coronavirus concerns cross into flu season.

“I think it’s good to call and see what they say and let it ride out for maybe like a week and then just go get checked,” Sleboda said.

Dr. Maloney says for now, there are only enough supplies to test people with COVID-19 symptoms. However, if you call Geisinger’s hotline, the hospital can arrange a meeting location for testing to limit exposure. Geisinger also has plans to administer off-site testing.

“To further minimize exposure where the only service provided is evaluating patients who believe they are positive for COVID-19,” Dr. Maloney said.

In order to be tested, you must meet screening criteria which include having a fever of 100.4 degrees, shortness of breath, and having recently traveled to or from an area that is endemic.

Geisinger has also implemented visitation restrictions for patients.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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