Mercy clinical co-workers working at the Mercy Coronavirus Evaluation Site performed nasal swab tests on 41 patients Friday, March 20, the first day the site opened for patients screened first by nurses via a call center.
With the number of COVID-19 cases increasing in the state and the first confirmed Washington County case announced Wednesday, Mercy opened the drive-through COVID-19 evaluation site Friday at 2090 S. Promenade Blvd. in Rogers. Also Friday, the Arkansas Department of Health announced the first confirmed case in Benton County.
The atmosphere at the Mercy site was chilly but calm and orderly Friday.
“We appreciate our community’s cooperation in calling first for a screening before proceeding to this evaluation site,” said Will Tommey, executive director of operations for Mercy Hospital. “We encourage anyone who feels like they have suspicious symptoms to call to talk with one of our trained nurses.”
The Mercy Coronavirus Evaluation Site is exclusively for patients who have a fever of at least 100.4 degrees and respiratory symptoms including cough or shortness of breath and either travel to a high-risk area or contact with a known patient. Anyone seeking a test must call Mercy’s Coronavirus Evaluation Site line at 479-717-7585 before arriving. Those not pre-screened will be redirected and asked to call the call center.
If nurses determine the caller fits the criteria, they will schedule the patients an appointment at the drive-through site. There, Mercy will collect a swab and send it to a designated lab, the state health department or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Results take 4 to 5 days.
“We will only provide screening for those who meet these requirements because testing prior to the appearance of symptoms can result in a false negative,” said Dr. Steve Goss, president of Mercy Clinic. “It’s critical for our communities that we screen those with the highest risk.”
Callers do NOT need to be established Mercy patients to be screened by calling the call center. The call center’s hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday and Sunday.
The drive-through location provides a designated place for COVID-19 testing away from other Mercy clinics and emergency rooms and reduces risk to other Mercy patients, visitors and co-workers, said Eric Pianalto, president of Mercy Hospital.
While coronavirus is spread from person to person, more than 80% of the patients who develop it will only become mildly ill, according to the CDC. The concern is for patients with underlying medical conditions and the elderly, who are more likely to need hospital-level supportive care.
People with COVID-19 do not have a runny nose or nasal congestion. Symptoms to be aware of include:
- 100.4 fever or higher - 90% will have fever
- Dry cough - 70% will have a dry cough
- Shortness of breath – for those who become more acutely ill
As part of Mercy’s mission and heritage for almost 200 years, we care for those in our community regardless of the illness or circumstance. Our current situation is no different. The Sisters of Mercy, long known as the Walking Sisters, have always turned and walked toward those in need. Whether it was a cholera or typhoid epidemic in Dublin, Ireland, in the early 1800s, or a smallpox outbreak in Springfield, Missouri, at the turn of the 20th century, the Sisters were many times the first to serve, without hesitation, whenever needed. Today, Mercy’s mission remains unchanged. We serve our communities with compassionate care, dignity and medical expertise.
Mercy, named one of the top five large U.S. health systems for four consecutive years (2016 to 2019) by IBM Watson Health, serves millions annually. Mercy includes more than 40 acute care, managed and specialty (heart, children's, orthopedic and rehab) hospitals, 900 physician practices and outpatient facilities, 45,000 co-workers and 2,400 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has clinics, outpatient services and outreach ministries in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. In addition, Mercy's IT division, Mercy Technology Services, and Mercy Virtual commercially serve providers and patients from coast to coast.