In an effort to expand testing in the heart of one of the state’s COVID-19 hotspots, Beebe Healthcare has partnered with other area groups to offer a drive-through testing and screening site in Georgetown.
Beginning April 29, expanded screening and no-referral testing will be available next to Beebe’s walk-in location, near the Route 113-Route 404 intersection in Georgetown. The service will be available Wednesday, April 29; Friday, May 1; and Saturday, May 2.
“We support the governor in terms of his interest in getting things open as soon as possible,” said Dr. David Tam, president and CEO of Beebe Healthcare. “It’s important to know how to test appropriately. To do that, it just can’t be willy-nilly and test everybody. It’s still a screening and testing process.”
Beebe has partnered with La Red Health Center, La Esperanza Community Center, the VA mobile unit, Westside Family Healthcare and Nemours in this effort. Tam said Gov. John Carney will be looking to Beebe to provide a collaboration model for testing that can be replicated throughout the state.
“When I was in the Navy, and we were deployed, it was called a coalition force,” Tam said. “In this case, we’ve been the lead on that coalition force. I think it will be good for the county as well as eventually the entire state.”
Someone who shows symptoms of COVID-19 or suspects they have been exposed may drive to the Georgetown campus where they will be screened without leaving their vehicle. Depending on results of the screening, medical staff will direct a person to various stations, including testing and education. Testing features two types of tests: rapid antibody testing, provided by the Division of Public Health, which is done by a finger stick; and the PCR test, which is done by a nasal or oral swab. Bilingual staff and interpreter services are available for the Spanish-speaking community.
“This team-wide collaboration really allows us to meet the needs of, connect with and care for all patients in the community,” said Stephen Keiser, vice president of operations for Beebe Medical Group. “It has allowed us to truly expand our patient services and our education services, which we know is so huge right now.”
Although the flow of a drive-through site works best with vehicles, Keiser said, Beebe is working on a plan to ensure those without vehicles can access the screening and testing site.
According to the latest statistics released by the Division of Public Health for April 26, Georgetown and Ellendale have the highest number of cases in Sussex County. Georgetown has 272 cases per 10,000 people, while Ellendale has 275 per 10,000. The Hispanic community accounts for 45 percent of positive cases in Sussex County for which ethnicity is known. Because the state did not require ethnicity information early in the testing process, the ethnicity of 35 percent of positive cases is currently unknown.
Hours for the new testing site will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., April 29; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., May 1; and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., May 2.
Georgetown walk-in now COVID center
To ensure Sussex residents who’ve tested positive for the coronavirus or those suspected to have COVID-19 are able to receive adequate medical care, Beebe Healthcare has converted its Georgetown walk-in facility to a COVID-Positive Care Center.
Recognizing that there’s a gap between COVID-positive patients in the ICU and those who are asymptomatic, Tam said, the goal of the facility is provide healthcare service to all who are dealing with the coronavirus.
“This is an opportunity for us to look at all the different things that we could potentially do to help them to avoid getting getting sicker and being admitted to the hospital,” Tam said.
Services at the center are available by appointment only and contact is limited throughout the facility. Healthcare services at the facility are not limited to COVID-related symptoms.
“We are replicating the same walk-in services that we provide to everybody else,” said Angela Scott, the center’s nurse manager. “We're just doing it in a safe environment.”
Lab testing, X-ray, ultrasound, MRI services are all available at the facility.
Those who do not have the coronavirus who seek walk-in services are asked to visit Beebe’s other walk-in sites in Millsboro or Rehoboth Beach.
The COVID-Positive Care Center undergoes terminal cleaning every night to ensure it remains a safe space.
The center is also divided into three zones to ensure safety for the medical staff and visiting patients, Scott said.
Hot zones are controlled areas where patients and staff need to be in full personal protective equipment. Protocols for warm zones, which are typically the center’s hallways, vary depending on the type of patients in facility at the time. Cool zones are off limits to any personnel who have had direct patient contact.
“I don’t want patients to think that they are any different than anybody else,” Scott said. “This team that I have is absolutely amazing at what they do. These patients are going to receive the exact same care as anybody else. We’re going to look them in the eye. We’re going to greet them. We’re going to treat them like anybody else.”
There are multiple ways to ensure adequate communication with the Spanish-speaking population of Sussex County. In addition to bilingual medical staff, Beebe also utilizes a service called IRIS, which is accessed via an iPad and is available at all facilities. The app connects a patient via video with an interpreter who can communicate with patient and medical staff. Several languages, including sign language, are available.
Telemedicine is also available for patients who would rather stay home.
Unlike the new drive-through testing service, doctor referrals are required for appointments at the COVID-Positive Care Center. The center will operate Monday through Friday.
For those who do not have access to a primary care provider, the Beebe COVID-19 screening line can assess a patient and schedule testing and an appointment with a provider if appropriate. Patients can call 302-645-3200 for screening, assessment and scheduling.
The COVID-Positive Care Center is located at 21635 Biden Ave. Suite 101, Georgetown.