Published on April 01, 2020

Nash UNC Health Care to Trial Outside Triage in COVID-19 Preparations

ROCKY MOUNT, North Carolina (April 1, 2020) –

As part of Nash UNC Health Care’s COVID-19 preparations, the Emergency Department will trial an outside triage process on Friday, April 3rd, and Saturday, April 4th.   

“As we continue to see a steady increase in the volume of patients with suspected COVID-19 coming to the Emergency Department, we want to have plans in place that minimize exposure to patients, visitors and staff, while quickly responding to patients with emergent medical needs,” said Dr. Chris Brock, medical director of Nash UNC Health Care’s Emergency Department.  “Trialing various processes now only help us to be better prepared when it’s time to use them.”

Nash UNC’s Emergency Department is currently screening patients at the entrance, and directing patients with respiratory symptoms into a separate area of the department for further evaluation. 

“This current process keeps those with potential COVID-19 in a contained area that prevents exposure to other patients, and also allows our staff evaluating these patients to be in proper personal protective equipment,” said Brock. 

“However, we’ve seen many individuals with only mild symptoms come to the Emergency Department to be tested, which is not encouraged as it only increases the potential exposure to themselves and others.  Additionally, as new COVID-19 testing criteria has recently been implemented by the CDC, we are only able to test individuals if they are considered high risk.  Individuals who believe they have COVID-19 symptoms and/or have been in close contact with a COVID positive individual should self-isolate and call their healthcare provider, their local health department or the state’s 24/7 hotline 1-866-462-3821 where they will receive guidance on next steps, which may include testing or self-monitoring.”

The outside triage process would allow the Emergency Department’s medical team to conduct an initial medical screening of the patient while the patient remains in their vehicle.  If the patient meets the CDC criteria to be tested for COVID-19 and/or has urgent medical needs, the patient will quickly be escorted into the Emergency Department for further evaluation.  If the patient meets the criteria to be tested for COVID-19 but does not have urgent medical needs, they will be referred to an off-campus respiratory diagnostic center for potential testing. If the patient does not meet the criteria to be tested for COVID-19 and has no urgent medical needs, they will be discharged from the Emergency Department while still in their vehicle, and provided information on symptoms to monitor at home and phone numbers to call if needed.  

“We are trialing this procedure to better serve our patients and community,” said Lee Isley, president and CEO of Nash UNC Health Care.  “We appreciate the willingness of the patients who will participate in this trial, which allows us to continue to improve our COVID response planning.  Anyone wishing to be seen inside and not participate in this trial may simply notify the provider when the provider greets them and asks if they are comfortable participating.  This process will improve our ability to treat all of our patients most effectively, and to keep our patients, staff, and community safe through this outbreak.”

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