People who are experiencing respiratory symptoms and a fever, and believe they could have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, should first call a primary care physician, urgent care center or emergency department to be pre-screened and advised over the phone. This way caregivers can be best prepared to care for patients when they arrive at a care facility.
Augusta University Health has a COVID-19 Hotline, (706) 721-1852, and a free virtual screening tool at augustahealth.org/expresscare/covid-19-virtual-screening. University and Doctors hospitals have free virtual screening tools available at universityhealth.org/cdc/ and doctors-hospital.net.
During the virtual visit on the AU Heath website or AU Health Express Care smartphone app, a health care professional will determine if a patient is a candidate for further testing. If so, the patient can make an appointment and choose the most convenient site for testing. AU Health has two drive-through testing locations – one at Patriots Park in Columbia County and one at Christenberry Fieldhouse on Wrightsboro Road. MedNow Urgent Care also has a pre-scheduled, drive-through testing site at Columbia County Exhibition Center in Grovetown. Pre-screening is available at mednowurgentcare.net.
“It’s very important that we emphasize that you don’t just show up for a test,” says Dr. Phillip Coule, AU Health’s vice president and chief medical officer. “You need to go online and do the screening first and then, if it’s appropriate, to test that individual.”
Not everyone who experiences COVID-19 symptoms needs to be tested. Most people who contract the virus will experience mild symptoms, and confirmation of the virus will not change the course of care. Individuals who experience fever, cough and shortness of breath should assume they have the virus, isolate at home and self-monitor symptoms for 14 days.
Individuals who are at risk for developing severe illness and whose care plan would change by confirmation of the virus will be prioritized for testing due to limited supplies and capabilities at this time.