USA Health reported the testing of more than 1,150 patients for the COVID-19 virus during the first 10 days since the public site was opened, April 6 to April 17, at Ladd-Peebles Stadium located in Midtown Mobile.
Per the most recently reported results prior to press time, Thursday April 16, at least 54 of those tests were positive with results for a minimal number of tests still pending.
“Testing remains vital in our community as we seek to understand the prevalence of COVID-19,” Michael Chang, M.D., chief medical officer for USA Health said. “With public health officials predicting a peak in cases in Alabama in the next few days, having an idea of who may need to be hospitalized or receive follow-up care allows us to better meet the needs of our patients and our community.”
However, according to Mayor Stimpson’s Facebook Live virtual townhall meeting held last Monday, the mid-April timeline initially announced as a local area “peak” for the COVID-19 pandemic spread may not have hit as high a bar as previously anticipated.
Similar to forecasts reported in other parts of the country, various local methods of mitigation such as social distancing and shelter-in-place protocols may have dropped the needle back down in terms of positive coronavirus results in a fluid and rapidly evolving test environment.
For those interested in getting tested for COVID-19 at Ladd Peebles Stadium, potential patients will first be required to be screened by phone to determine if testing is needed. Once vetted, patients will be given a virtual appointment scheduling for testing.
The phone number for the public to call is 1-888-USA-2650 (1-888-872-2650). Phones are answered weekdays from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and tests are performed weekdays from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Currently, no one will be admitted to the site for testing without an appointment and proper identification.
“As the region’s only academic health system, USA Health is very pleased with the response our community continues to show as it relates to testing during the COVID-19 outbreak,” Michelle Dudley, executive director of practice management for USA Health said. “Through the partnership with the City of Mobile, first responders and front-line workers continue to be tested as well, helping to ensure the safety of our community.”
Ladd-Peebles Stadium will continue as the testing site for USA Health employees and patients who have been screened and approved for testing. Mobile area first responders also have been tested at the site. USA Health patients should contact their USA Health provider if they believe they need to be tested.
Protocols for testing include:
- Entry is on the East side of the stadium.
- Signs are in place for orientation.
- Patients should remain in their cars with the windows rolled up.
- To confirm identity, patients will be asked for their driver’s license and insurance card.
- A healthcare worker will come to the window, at which time the patient should roll it down.
- The healthcare worker will swab the inside of the patient’s nose and/or throat.
- After the procedure, the car window should be rolled back up.
- Patients should exit the testing site on the West side of the stadium.
- Information on how to quarantine, according to CDC guidelines, will be provided.
USA Health anticipates test results within 72 hours, but this will be determined by the volume of tests and the ability of the testing lab to process samples. An information sheet will be provided on how to sign up via the USA Health patient portal to view test results. Those who test positive will be contacted and provided further healthcare instruction.
USA College of Medicine researcher launches COVID-19 data project
A public health researcher at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine is compiling data that could provide insights into COVID-19 symptoms, the spread of the infection and its impact on Mobile-area residents, according to a news release.
Casey L. Daniel, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor in the department of family medicine at the USA College of Medicine, said patient data being collected at USA Health clinics, hospitals and testing sites could provide critical information to policymakers and others as they respond to the pandemic.
“The project has multiple objectives,” Daniel said. “We want to inform health system coordination and policies in real time to ensure maximization of limited resources such as test kits, PPE and personnel.”
When patients request COVID-19 testing, their answers to screening questions are logged into a database. The information, which is de-identified to protect confidentiality, covers symptoms, exposures, existing illnesses, travel and demographic information. The research group includes USA Health staff and third-year medical students.
“After they are tested, we add the results into the database along with any co-morbidities such as diabetes, heart disease and autoimmune disorders that put patients at a higher risk,” Daniel said.
“This data will give us a better picture about COVID-19 trends in our area, such as what ages, races and communities have been the most affected and how these compare to state and national trends.”
USA Health began testing employees and established patients in mid-March and partnered with the City of Mobile to open the public testing site in early April at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
Daniel went on to say that the project also aims to develop a protocol for following up with patients who test positive for COVID-19 to gauge length of symptoms and any recurrence or complications over time.
“We don’t know yet what the long-term outcomes will be — gathering this information now will be essential as we learn more about COVID-19,” she said.
Daniel also plans to develop peer-reviewed articles for publication based on the data findings as well as set up future community briefings to inform residents about what COVID-19 looks like in the regional area.
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