LACONIA — The first two positive tests for coronavirus have been recorded at Lakes Region General Hospital and more are anticipated as the medical facility continues to evaluate people for the disease in a restricted lot near the emergency room, President and CEO Kevin Donovan said Tuesday.
As of 4 p.m., the state Health and Human Services Department was still reporting testing figures from Monday morning, which reflected 17 people with positive tests statewide. Nationally there have been 4,226 cases and 75 deaths. Globally, there have been nearly 170,000 cases and more than 6,600 deaths.
While LRGH performs the test for people with doctor’s orders, ConvenientMD in Belmont has begun testing members of the public who present with a high risk of having the infection. If they meet the criteria for testing, people are tested in their car outside the store.
ConvenientMD released a statement on why testing must remain limited.
“All ConvenientMD clinics are able to provide COVID-19 (coronavirus) testing however, due to world-wide shortages of COVID-19 tests and personal protective equipment (PPE), we are unable to test patients who do not show signs and symptoms of COVID-19. We are actively working to secure more COVID-19 tests and PPE in all clinics.”
Donovan also said the hospital is not in a position to expand testing.
“We, and all hospitals in the United States, have begun to see that testing equipment and supplies are now lacking,” he said. “This means that we cannot expand our testing criteria.”
ClearChoiceMD, with clinics in Belmont and Tilton, does not offer coronavirus testing.
Donovan said the hospital also has concerns about capacity should there be a surge of coronavirus patients.
“All hospitals are struggling to obtain the necessary supplies and resources, including personal protective equipment (PPE),” he said. “We feel confident that we are better equipped than most, but worry about long-term availability of supplies depending upon the duration and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Donovan said the hospital has taken the step of setting up a medical triage tent outside of the emergency room.
“The intent of this area is to support the COVID-19 testing area and screen all patients prior to entering the Emergency Room,” he said.”Patients with fever and/or respiratory symptoms will be masked and isolated upon entry.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people to call their doctor if they have the fever and cough or difficulty breathing associated with COVID-19.
Doctors are advised to use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms associated with the disease and whether the patient should be tested but to give priority to people with symptoms who are older and those with chronic medical conditions.
Priority is also to be given to people who within 14 days of having symptoms had close contact with a suspect or confirmed COVID-19 or who have a history of travel from areas where the disease is prevalent.
“Mildly ill patients should be encouraged to stay home and contact their healthcare provider by phone for guidance about clinical management,” the CDC said in a statement.
“Patients who have severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, should seek care immediately. Older patients and individuals who have underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised should contact their physician early in the course of even mild illness.”