As Connecticut announced the state’s first fatal case of coronavirus on Wednesday, there was a growing effort to reach anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19, including the most economically challenged in the state.
Nearly a dozen drive-thru testing sites were set up across Connecticut, with more expected to open. The latest was at Meriden’s MidState Medical Center, part of Hartford HealthCare which registered over 200 patients for tests at Hartford Hospital Wednesday.
"It’s set up primarily to facilitate the testing that needs to be done as soon as possible in order for us to mitigate and help people to be isolated as soon as possible,” explained Keith Grant, Hartford HealthCare’s Director of Infection Protection.
Mark Masselli is the CEO of Community Health Center, Inc., which treats Connecticut’s under-served populations. He said they see 150,000 patients across the state.
“There is so much pent up anxiety about this,” said Masselli.
Some only have access to public transportation, so a drive-through test may not work for them. Many are on Medicaid, which was just authorized to start covering telehealth, or virtual doctor’s appointments, last week.
“This means that people do not have to come here,” he explained.
Instead, the center is doing appointments online to determine whether a patient needs to be tested for COVID-19.
“It’s growing every day so I think yesterday was 20 and we’ll probably double today and double the next day,” he said of the number of tests they’ve performed since Monday.
Telehealth could help stop the spread of coronavirus by limiting other patients’ potential exposure.
“Oftentimes we’re telling people just to self-quarantine for now, monitor their temperature, keep us informed around this,” he explained.
He also said there’s a benefit for those who are feeling anxious during this trying time.
“There’s something nice about seeing somebody face to face and telehealth really does that,” said Masselli.
Another advantage of telehealth is that providers who’ve been exposed to the coronavirus and are now quarantined at home can continue to see patients virtually, according to Masselli.