Boynton Health and M Health Fairview are screening University of Minnesota students and community members for COVID-19.
All patients are screened at the front door upon entering Boynton to maintain social distancing guidelines and keep patients apart. M Health Fairview is screening patients through a virtual visit on its OnCare.org website.
Following guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health, testing priority at Boynton is given to health care workers who have symptoms, due to a testing shortage. Senior citizens and severely ill people can also be tested. The test consists of a nasal swab that Boynton’s lab sends to MDH for confirmation.
For critically ill COVID-19 patients, M Health Fairview will use Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul as its main hub for care.
Boynton staff members are asking that people call before they come so it can be determined whether someone needs to be seen, said Dave Golden, the director of public health and communications at Boynton.
Boynton has been providing screening appointments in-person and over the phone for safety reasons. Quarantine arrangements can be made for students or others who are unable to self-isolate.
So far, there have been no additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the University campus aside from the first one announced earlier this month.
Boynton is still seeing patients, but services have been reduced, Golden said. Even seating in the lobby is limited.
“As changes come, we just sort of revamp what we’re doing. That’s been the most challenging part, adapting to the changes,” he said.
M Health Fairview locations are also adapting their protocol to fit changing health standards. Earlier this month, they began offering drive-thru testing locations which they have since stopped. M Health Fairview is instead reserving their limited testing supplies for critically ill patients and using staff to meet online screening demands.
“In accordance to CDC guidelines, individuals who are experiencing symptoms - including fever or cough - should self-quarantine for a minimum of 7 days after illness onsets,” an M Health Fairview spokesperson said to the Minnesota Daily in an emailed statement. “Or 72 hours after resolution of fever (without taking fever-reducing medications), and improvement of respiratory symptoms, whichever is longer.”
COVID-19 patients who are critically ill will be cared for at the Bethesda Hospital, while other patients will be transferred to different Fairview system locations. This is partly to reduce the risk of exposure for health care workers and other non-COVID-19 patients.
“Many patients with severe COVID-19 disease require specialized care teams and equipment such as ventilators to help them breathe and prevent multisystem organ failure. This plan enhances our ability to equip the facility with providers skilled in the care of highly acute patients and technology required for care of these critically ill patients,” the statement reads.
Bethesda Hospital will increase its bed capacity from 50 to 90, including 35 intensive care beds and 55 medical-surgical beds for confirmed acutely ill COVID-19 patients.