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Ridgecrest Regional Hospital COVID-19 Advisory and Response - Testing (3.25.20)

Ridgecrest Regional Hospital COVID-19 Advisory and Response - Testing (3.25.20)

Wednesday, March 25, 2020, RIDGECREST, Calif. – As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout Kern County and across our nation, we want you to know that the dedicated nurses, doctors and staff of Ridgecrest Regional Hospital (RRH) are here to care for you and your loved ones. There is nothing more important than the safety and well-being of our patients, our employees, and our community. This is a moment we are ready to face, and we will do it together — with you and for you.

We know that there are growing concerns in our community over our ability and decisions to test here at RRH, so we wanted to address some of those key questions for the community, to dispel any rumors that might be circulating.

Is COVID-19 testing available at RRH?

Yes. Call your health care professional if you feel sick with fever, cough or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19. Your health care professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.

RRH is also offering text appointment for COVID-19 screening and testing. If you feel you meet the criteria* for screening, TEXT the word "SCREENING" to 833-RRH-4YOU (833-774-4968). Our nursing triage calls the patient back and conducts screening/assessment via phone. If the patient meets the screening criteria, an appointment is scheduled for the drive-thru testing process. 

*Information on the CDC testing criteria and a Symptom Self Check Tool can be found on the CDC website here.

What is the testing criteria for COVID-19 at RRH?

Testing for COVID-19 is a medical test and should be done if a licensed health care provider determines that it is necessary based on the signs, symptoms, and history of a patient. There are many reasons why testing should be based on medical indications and a health care provider decision. A health care provider can provide results to the patient and help the patient understand the results and provide appropriate care. Also, testing based on medical need will ensure that people who most need testing can get results rapidly and reduce strain on the health care system1.

RRH is following the guidelines issued by the CDC, which are constantly evolving. Under the latest guidelines, the hospital can now use its own choice of outside labs, resulting in faster test result turnaround times. The hospital also no longer needs Kern County's permission to run the tests. Physicians make the determination for testing for their patients, based on CDC guidelines. Further information on the CDC criteria, as well as a Symptom Self-Checker can be found on the CDC website here.

How many people has RRH tested for COVID-19?

RRH complies with directives from Kern County Public Health regarding the dissemination of information on patients tested, admitted or transferred and in isolation etc. The County Public Health Department releases that information at their discretion. There are currently confirmed cases in Kern County residents. For the latest and most up to date numbers, please visit Kern County Public Health here.

Does RRH have enough COVID-19 test kits?

RRH continues to test patients that meet the CDC guidelines and physician judgement. It is critical that testing be reserved for the most likely patients so that the outside reference labs can keep up the volume and that we do not run out of testing kits. It is important that we let our licensed providers determine the most appropriate testing for each patient in sync with the current recommendations from the government.

Testing based on medical need will ensure that people who most need testing can get results rapidly and reduce strain on the health care system2.

Who IS currently being tested for COVID-19?

Persons who may be considered for testing depending on clinical severity and community health relevance, include3:

  1. Hospitalized patients who have signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 in order to inform decisions related to infection control or medical management.

  2. Residents and staff of long-term care facilities with signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19.

  3. Other persons who are at higher risk for severe infection with signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19. These persons include older adults (age >65 years) and individuals with chronic medical conditions.

  4. Residents and staff of correctional facilities and other congregate settings with signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19.

  5. Healthcare personnel with signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19.

Who IS NOT being tested for COVID-19?

Not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19. Here is some information that might help in making decisions about seeking care or testing. Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home. There is no treatment specifically approved for this virus4.

  • Persons in these categories with mild illness should contact their health care provider by phone to discuss the need for testing.

  • Persons with mild respiratory symptoms who do not otherwise need medical care and who are not in one of the “at risk” groups should not be routinely tested for COVID-19. These persons should care for themselves at home as they normally would for a mild illness.

  • Ill persons should stay home and away from others until there has been no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, until there has been improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) for at least 3 days; AND it is at least 7 days since symptoms first appeared, i.e., the minimum length of time will be 7 days.

  • Asymptomatic persons are not being tested for COVID-19.

  • Current testing for COVID-19 cannot detect prior infection.

  • Testing a person without symptoms does not rule out the possibility that person may become ill in the future. 5

If a patient is concerned about their symptoms or has questions regarding a physician’s decision to order a test, the best advice is to contact their provider directly to discuss. For more information on symptoms and testing, visit the CDC website here.

At what point should you seek medical attention?

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:

  • Trouble breathing

  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest

  • New confusion or inability to arouse

  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

For more information on symptoms and testing, visit the CDC website here.

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