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Drive-through testing closed

Sentara Healthcare announced on Tuesday that its COVID-19 drive-through screening and testing sites are closed until further notice.

The community update on Tuesday states that “this decision is based primarily on delays in receiving and communicating test results to our patients due to the high volumes of testing across the country.”

Sentara Laboratory Services is working to launch in-house testing for Hampton Roads at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital within the next week. In the meantime, Sentara Healthcare will still be dependent on commercial laboratories, which are handling “extraordinarily large” volumes, the update states.

“Sentara recently learned that the commercial laboratories increased estimated return times on tests to 10 days or more due to volumes,” the update states.

Sentara Healthcare has stay-at-home and social distancing guidelines for those that think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and who have two of the following symptoms: fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, coughing or shortness of breath. These people are advised to stay at home, to keep social distancing and to monitor for any changes in their symptoms.

Sentara is using telehealth to help keep patients safe while they remain at home. According to the Tuesday update, more than 1,200 providers from Sentara Medical Group are now treating patients virtually during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sentara Healthcare has been offering telehealth visits through a virtual care team since 2018, but now most Sentara Medical Group providers have moved to video visits to treat patients, which helps decrease the spread of germs and promote social distancing.

While many telehealth visits are patients with COVID-19 concerns, other patients can utilize this method for basic urgent care needs, medication refills and chronic care needs with their primary care provider or Sentara Practice Partner.

“Since March 17, Sentara care teams have completed more than 10,500 telehealth appointments,” according to the Tuesday update. “Before March, the average number of visits each day was roughly 20. Now, the average number of daily visits is more than 2,000.”

Sentara is urging people to stay at home whenever possible and to keep practicing the prevention methods recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a reminder, washing your hands and keeping your hands away from your face is the best way to protect oneself from a respiratory illness like COVID-19.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. If soap and water are not available, then use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

It’s also important to remember the health care workers who are on the front lines, fighting this pandemic each and every day. People can help them by staying at home and healthy, but also by donating critically important supplies.

Visit sentara.com/coronavirus for more information on how people can support their Sentara hospital system doctors, nurses and other health care workers. Only material supplies are being accepted at this time, not food donations.

One of their greatest needs at this time are personal protective equipment, or PPE, such as the following:

  • Masks (N95 or Disposable Face Masks)
  • Nitrile Gloves
  • Impervious Gowns (level 1 – level 4)
  • Disposable Shoe Covers
  • Fog-free Face Shields
  • Goggles

Visit sentaraupdates.com/supply-donations for the list of Sentara Hospitals and phone numbers to schedule a drop-off time for donations. Calls can be made Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To schedule a drop-off at Sentara Obici Hospital, call 934-4532.