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‘We are not a testing facility’: Crowded hospitals not COVID testing sites

‘We are not a testing facility’: Crowded hospitals reminding community that emergency rooms are...
‘We are not a testing facility’: Crowded hospitals reminding community that emergency rooms are not COVID testing sites(Source: WTVM)
Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 7:59 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The lack of bed space at hospitals all across the country is causing problems for severe COVID patients and others in need of acute care.

Health officials are reminding people that the emergency room is not the place to go to get tested for COVID.

While hospitals can’t legally turn anyone away from the hospital, they are simply trying to decrease the surge they’re seeing in patients.

With hospitals in Georgia and Alabama seeing record numbers of patients each day, staff are overwhelmed.

“Now you compound that with a fourth surge in COVID which adds additional patients that come through that take up resources and makes for a really full and really stressful environment,” said Piedmont Columbus Regional’s Director of Emergency Services Jack Rodgers.

Health officials in Alabama, where there are currently no ICU beds available, say the situation is stressful.

“The patients that come in and are waiting to be seen or hospitals that call us wanting to send patients here when we don’t have room and all other hospitals are on diversion -- it’s a very scary and overwhelming thing,” said East Alabama’s Medical Center’s Executive Director of Emergency Services Amy Brandon.

To help with the influx, hospitals have had to get creative.

“One of our additional ICU’s is in a surgical area that has very similar equipment so we can convert that into an ICU,” said Brandon.

Health officials say one of the major reasons for the surge in patients is people going to the emergency room for COVID-19 tests.

“I do want people to understand that we are not a testing facility. If you come here just for a COVID test...physicians...at their discretion can say ‘we just -- we can’t do that for you right now,’”, said Rodgers.

The Georgia Department of Public Health released a statement saying “To help keep hospital emergency departments open and able to treat medical emergencies, individuals seeking COVID testing should not go to hospital emergency departments.”

One Columbus resident suggests state officials consider adding more testing sites to help resolve that problem.

“They can go to YMCA’s or they can go to the recreation center. All these recreation centers that they not using that they just sitting there -- they can set up a site there,” said Jessie Johnson.

Georgia residents can find testing locations at https://dph.georgia.gov/covidtesting. Alabama residents can find testing sights in their area at https://dph1.adph.state.al.us/covid-19/.

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