CLIFTON SPRINGS — Rochester Regional Health has set up tents at four hospitals, including Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic, as an extension of primary care services that includes COVID-19 testing.
Veronica Chiesi Brown, RRH public information officer, said the tents were set up at Clifton, Rochester General Hospital, Unity Hospital in Greece, and United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia.
RRH also has an affiliation with Newark-Wayne Community Hospital, but no tents were set up there.
The hours for the Clifton tent are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, but will be changing to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. as of Monday.
Chiesi Brown said while coronavirus testing is being done at Clifton, the tents are not designed just for that purpose, and there is no guarantee people will be tested. People should contact their primary care provider before going to the hospital; at the tent, people will be evaluated to see if a test is warranted.
“These outdoor tents are designed to further protect patients, employees, and the community by further decreasing the chance of exposure,” Chiesi Brown said. “Patients will be evaluated for medical issues, not just for COVID-19 testing.”
Lara Turbide, vice president of community services for Finger Lakes Health, said a canopy was erected at the Geneva General Hospital entrance for several hours last week, but was discontinued after conferring with state officials. She said less than 10 tests were done, and only for people referred by doctors.
“As of now, the only tests being done are on patients who are hospitalized with symptoms, first responders who meet certain criteria and health care workers,” Turbide said. “We are not doing on-site testing here.”
Turbide urged local residents to visit flhealth.org or call a COVID-19 information line at (315) 787-5110. The line is staffed by registered nurses who can answer questions.
Turbide added that Finger Lakes Health, like many healthcare agencies, has canceled elective surgeries in lieu of having beds for COVID-19 patients.
“We have an emergency surge plan that we look at every day, in case we get a surge of patients,” she said.
Anne Johnston, who works in the office of corporate communications at UR Medicine Thompson Health, said work crews at F.F. Thompson Hospital in Canandaigua created a new entrance to the building for patients with suspected COVID-19, retrofitting what had been a conference room into a secure screening area.
Johnston said before going to the hospital, people who may have the virus should contact their primary care doctor and get a referral for screening. They are directed, from the emergency department, to the special entrance.
“If they’re ambulatory, they walk to it on their own,” she said. “If they need a wheelchair, they’re assisted to the special entrance by staff.”
Only patients may enter this COVID-19 assessment area, unless — in the case of a minor or developmentally disabled person, for example — they need a caregiver or advocate present.
Patients arriving at the dedicated entrance are masked immediately, their hands are scrubbed and their temperature is taken. A small team of emergency department personnel, wearing personal protective equipment, use a secured corridor to meet them and take a swab to test them for COVID-19, if warranted.
If symptoms are mild to moderate, they will return home to await their test results in quarantine. If they need hospital care, they will be admitted.
“This is our current setup, but we have tents available as the situation progresses,” Johnston said.