Bristol Hospital opens coronavirus testing stations

By The Bristol Press

March 13, 2020

Bristol Hospital opened coronavirus testing units Friday after they were approved by state inspectors.

The outdoor specimen collection station allows patients to stay in their car for most of the process before they briefly exit their vehicle for a nasal swabbing, hospital officials said. The outdoor stations are located inside the Queen Street entrance of the hospital.

Hospital officials were originally looking at having the specimen station up and running early next week, but at Gov. Ned Lamont’s direction, that timeframe was expedited. This comes as state officials on Friday reported 11 people in Connecticut have tested positive for the virus.

Chris Ann Meaney, senior vice president, chief nursing officer and chief operating officer at Bristol Health, said Bristol Hospital on Friday had 200 test kits with more on the way. She also said one woman drove an hour to the hospital so she could be tested. She had to wait for the collection station to be OK’d by the state and a brief tour provided to a number of media outlets.

The 10 foot by 10 foot structures have three stations. A fourth will be used as a backup for testing and space for staff. All nurses and providers will wear personal protection equipment.

The three stations that will primarily be used will include a check-in with a security officer and a Bristol police officer, a check-in station where a patient’s identification and written physician’s order is confirmed and a station where the patient will receive a nasal swab while they exit their car and sit in a chair under a temporary pop-up tent.

The area is then sanitized before the next patient receives a swab. Hospital officials said they provide nasal swabs to patients or oral swabs if need be.

The swab will then be labeled and placed in a refrigerator. Bristol Health has arranged to send them to the University of Washington Reference Laboratory. All samples will be sent out daily at 3 p.m. via Federal Express. Results for the samples are expected in five to seven days.

The units are open to those who have flu-like symptoms and a written order from a physician to be tested for COVID-19. Hospital officials said the written order is required.

David Koscuk, director of EMS and public safety at Bristol Hospital, said nurses at the stations wear a gown, mask, eye protection and gloves. The hospital is using their normal supplies as well as those from their emergency supply. Koscuk said they are in the process of getting more as well.

“Right now we’re in pretty good shape,” Koscuk said.