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Changes Made to COVID-19 Testing at Wheeling Park

A worker walks between vehicles on the first day of coronavirus testing at Wheeling Park on March 18.

Patients undergoing coronavirus testing at Wheeling Park won’t be required to first undergo tests for flu or strep throat beginning Wednesday, Wheeling Hospital officials announced Monday.

Since it opened earlier this month, patients at the drive-thru testing site were initially tested for Influenza A and B, as well as strep throat. If those results were positive, the patient was directed to return home and call their primary care provider for further instructions.

If the results are negative, the patient was then tested for COVID-19.

But as the cases of flu begin to drop, hospital officials have decided to focus solely on testing for the coronavirus.

“As is typical in the spring, flu activity is decreasing, and confirmed by the CDC,” said Dr. Clark Milton, Wheeling Hospital’s director of Corporate Health. “And although by no means is influenza gone for the season, at this time Wheeling Hospital is shifting the testing focus to COVID-19.”

The off-site testing at Wheeling Park began March 18, and the hospital staff has swab-tested nearly 620 patients as of Monday afternoon.

The regional center handles patients from all of the area’s hospitals in the WVU Medicine System including Harrison Community, Reynolds Memorial, Barnesville and Wetzel Community.

However, testing is not for the general public, meaning patients must have a valid order from a physician in order to be tested or should call 304-221-3995 to speak to nurse navigators who will triage the patient over the phone. If it is determined through the call that the patient is symptomatic, that person’s name will be sent to the testing center and the order will be entered into the computer list. Symptoms include fever, shortness of breath, cough and travel to an endemic area or contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.

The tests are sent to a private laboratory, and the results go to the person’s primary care provider. Until results are received by the physician, the patient is instructed to return home to self-quarantine. The testing site is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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