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CEO: There is no shortage of COVID tests

Centra Southside Community Hospital CEO Tom Angelo gave some updates Friday afternoon, Nov. 20, regarding coronavirus treatment and testing at Centra’s Farmville location.

Angelo said Southside currently has 15 beds dedicated to the treatment of COVID-19 patients with the ability to expand to 46 beds if necessary.

On Friday, Angelo said there were just two patients currently admitted in Southside’s COVID unit, neither of which were in the ICU or ventilated.

He added that eight COVID-19 patients have passed away at Southside since the start of the pandemic, approximately half of which were on comfort care.

Twenty-three employees in Centra’s southside region have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began.

When asked about how regularly COVID-19 patients at Southside are transferred to Centra Lynchburg General Hospital for treatment, Angelo said patients are normally transferred to Lynchburg when they require ventilation. He added this occurs approximately one to two times per week.

In addressing COVID-19 testing at Southside, Angelo said the Centra Southside Community Hospital Emergency Department will utilize the Lab Corp coronavirus test for otherwise healthy patients, which typically takes two to five days to get results.

There is currently not a drive thru testing option at Southside, so those patients have to be seen in the emergency room. Angelo added that a patient does not have to display symptoms or have a likely exposure to the virus in order to get tested at the ER. And while the hospital does not have a shortage of Lab Corp tests, it is important to note that this sort of test is considered an ER visit and would be charged as such.

He highlighted that the Health Center for Women and Families located across the street does offer rapid testing by appointment, and many CVS and Walgreens drug stores in the Richmond and Lynchburg area also offer testing by appointment.

Angelo added the only time a rapid test may be run at Southside is for critically ill patients.

At Centra Southside Medical Center, symptomatic or asymptomatic patients with close contact to a confirmed positive case (close contact being defined as being within six or fewer feet to an exposed individual for more than 15 minutes) can be tested using an oropharyngeal swab similar to a strep test.

“We continuously stay up to date with CDC guidelines, and processes may change based on CDC criteria,” Angelo said.

Masks and proper social distancing are currently required of anyone entering the building at Southside. All visitors and caregivers are screened at entrances and are only allowed entry if they do not present any COVID-19 symptoms. Any patient with symptoms of the virus will be assessed and treated accordingly.