OAKLAND, MD – Garrett Regional Medical Center (GRMC) has opened a COVID-19 testing clinic at its location on Pythian Avenue behind the hospital campus. The clinic was established in order to provide coronavirus testing for people throughout GRMC’s 8-county service area who may have been exposed to the virus or who are showing symptoms.
The drive-through clinic requires patients to stay in their vehicles for the duration of the short process. In order to be tested, patients must have an order from a physician; people lacking a doctor’s order cannot be tested. Patients must bring their doctor’s order to the site and stay in their vehicles; hospital staff will come to them to both register them and perform the needed nasal swab test. This is being done to limit exposure for the hospital’s health care workers and other staff, and to ensure that patients testing negative are not exposed to patients who have the virus during the testing process.
“It is extremely important that we follow protocol on this,” says Kendra Thayer, the hospital’s Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Operating Officer. “If you think you may have been exposed to the virus, or you don’t feel well, please call your primary care provider or local urgent care provider. Do NOT come to the Emergency Room at the hospital. Your primary or urgent care provider needs to speak with you first, and needs to provide an order for the coronavirus test. Once you have the physician’s order, report to our drive-through testing station on Pythian Avenue and stay in your vehicle. Our staff will come to you to complete paperwork and the test itself.”
In the northern end of the county, patients may go to the Grantsville Medical Center to be tested.
The response of Garrett Regional Medical Center to COVID-19 continues to evolve as new state and federal guidelines are announced and local primary care and other providers refer patients for testing.
The regional medical center has been working with area providers as well as local, state, and federal officials to identify and follow best practices in approaching the health care community’s response to what the World Health Organization has designated a pandemic. Clinical protocols and procedures outlined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are in place in order to care for any area residents or visitors who may test positive for the COVID-19 virus.
“To be clear, we want the community to know that GRMC has taken steps to protect the patients we treat, our staff, and the broader community,” says Mark Boucot, GRMC President & CEO. “We are strictly limiting visitors, in accordance with Governor Larry Hogan’s state of emergency; we’ve suspended our VIVA and LOAR programs in order to protect our volunteers from any potential exposure to the virus; and we’ve determined that those employees who can work from home should do so. We will do everything we can to contain and mitigate COVID-19 in the region, and we encourage area residents to do their part as well: stay home, only venture out when necessary, and avoid any group gatherings. If we all do our part, we will get through this.”
In an attempt to help mitigate spread of the virus, GRMC has determined that the only visitation allowed will be for patients who are critically ill or who are in OB. These patients will only be allowed one visitor in the hospital at a time; additional visitors may not wait to see these patients in the hospital’s public waiting areas, and will be asked to leave the building.
These rules will also apply to those coming to the hospital’s Emergency Department (ED). Adult ED patients may not have anyone accompany them, though some exceptions may be made for trauma patients or patients who are critically ill, and only one adult will be able to accompany a minor for treatment in the ED. No visitors will be allowed to wait in the ED waiting room.
In order to stay abreast of the latest developments on COVID-19 and to see how best to limit the chance of exposure, GRMC urges area residents to go to www.coronavirus.gov for reliable, fact-based information regarding the virus and developments on addressing it. Do not rely on Facebook or other social media posts for information, Mr. Boucot cautions.
“There are a lot of rumors being spread about both the virus and how to respond to it,” Mr. Boucot notes. “Please do not rely on social media for information about what is going on. The CDC website has very good information about the virus itself, such a symptoms and how to protect against getting it, as well as information on travel, guidance for businesses and employers, and recommendations on cleaning and disinfecting. You can also access accurate information on the number of reported cases. GRMC is committed to helping our community weather this pandemic, and will be issuing information as it becomes available.”