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Bristol Hospital receives large shipment of coronavirus tests, more expected

By The Bristol Press

March 19, 2020

Bristol Hospital received a large shipment of coronavirus test kits on Thursday that is expected to last through the weekend and early next week.

The hospital has not reported any positive cases thus far, although swabs that are being sent to the lab are expected to take about a week for results. On Thursday, 48 people received nasal swabs, bringing the total number of tests administered by Bristol Hospital to 252.

“It was much slower than yesterday,” Chris Boyle, a spokesman for Bristol Health, said Thursday of the outdoor testing station. “The weather is definitely a factor with people coming in.”

Thursday was mostly rainy in the morning and dreary throughout the afternoon. The shipment of test kits received, the specific number of which was not disclosed, is expected to last the hospital through early next week, with more kits expected in the coming days.

Although patients need to get out of their vehicles briefly at Bristol Hospital’s COVID-19 testing station, Boyle said officials were prepared for bad weather with a pop-up tent provided by the Bristol-Burlington Health District.

“They’ve been great,” Boyle said, adding that the station has been staffed primarily with nurses from the Bristol-Burlington Health District.

“Our best practice is having the patient get out of the car for the nasal swab,” Boyle said.

The hospital opted to have patients briefly exit their vehicle for two reasons. For one, the nasal swab has been known to cause patients to sneeze. Hospital officials feel it is better if this occurs outside rather than in a contained vehicle.

Additionally, patients who drive an SUV or pickup truck that is higher off the ground that the average car could make things challenging for nurses who need to reach inside the window and take a swab.

“There’s really been no incidents,” Boyle said of visiting patients, speaking particularly of those who are turned away because they didn’t have a written doctor’s note for the test. “They’ve really been very cooperative.”

As the days go on, the hospital spokesperson said, fewer and fewer people are showing up without notes - something that is mandated before hospital officials can test someone.

Bristol Hospital has also had no issues with a lack of supplies, whether it be gloves, masks, eye protection or anything else nurses and staff wear. Should it ever come to that, Boyle said, "all Connecticut hospitals are available to help each other with supplies if need be."

“Competition kind of goes out the window with something like this,” Boyle said. "

“This is kind of a shared sacrifice for everyone.”