EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Many community members have shared the difficulty of getting tested for COVID-19 in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ogechika Alozie at Del Sol Medical Center said the hospital is taking care of its most sick patients with its own critical criteria. He explained the testing process goes through a series of steps before being tested for COVID-19.
Dr. Alozie said Del Sol Medical Center is testing patients who have a high fever, dry cough, and travel record. He mentioned the hospital is trusting its patients are giving accurate information.
“We have to trust our community that when they come in and they’re sick, they’re telling us the proper information,” Alozie said, “So we’re not checking passports or tickets to anything ridiculous like that, but again we’re working to make sure that we do what’s right for the physicians, the patients, and the community.”
However, that’s not the only critical criteria the hospital uses.
“We’re also testing people for influenza, we’re testing them for strep, and then we actually have another test that tests a host of different viruses,” Alozie explained, “If the person is sick, they meet the negativity of all those other tests, then we’ll work with the health department to get them the COVID-19 testing.”
Many El Pasoans have been sharing the difficulty of getting tested for COVID-19. Most say they or someone they know have been referred to self-quarantine for 14 days instead.
However, Dr. Alozie along with other health officials want to remind the public to only visit the emergency room as a last resort when you’re very sick or short of breath.
“When we talk about flattening the curve, that’s exactly the opposite of flattening the curve. That would actually overload the health system, the entire system or anyone else here in El Paso. What we’re saying is this,” Alozie said, “If you think you’re ill, if you think you’re ill enough to come to the hospital that you might need hospitalization, come to the hospital. That’s our job is to take care of you. If not, work with your primary care physician, work with an urgent care to understand that testing process. Always remember that the flu and strep is still a very big possibility.”
Up to date, El Paso still has only three cases of COVID-19. Health officials say that number could most likely increase in a matter of time.