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Drive-through testing continues, Meriden site opens

Drive-through testing continues, Meriden site opens

reporter photo

MERIDEN — A husband and wife in their 70s tested positive for the coronavirus at the Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain and are currently in isolation, Hartford HealthCare officials said on Wednesday.

Hospital officials would not reveal additional information, citing privacy laws, but the case is the first at the hospital. As of Tuesday evening, the state had 68 positive COVID-19 tests. It’s not clear whether the husband and wife were included.

On Wednesday, Gov. Ned Lamont announced the state’s first fatality from the coronavirus. The man, in his 80s, lived in a Ridgefield assisted-living facility and was treated at Danbury Hospital.

“The community spread is happening,” said Dr. Ajay Kumar, Hartford Healthcare’s chief medical officer.“It’s happening in several counties across Connecticut.”

Hartford HealthCare reported that 204 people had registered for drive-through testing with 114 tests performed Tuesday at a Hartford testing site. On Wednesday, 214 people had registered for testing. The drive-through testing site at MidState Medical Center on Lewis Avenue opened at 8 a.m. and medical workers in protective clothing could be seen swabbing six pre-registered patients.

“We are working to get more drive-through testing sites open on other campuses across the state,” said hospital spokeswoman Tina Varona. 

Some who test positive are hospitalized, while less serious cases are quarantined. Those patients awaiting test results, usually two days, receive instructions on self-isolation and what to do if they test positive.

Hartford Healthcare also implemented new restrictions on visitors.

One visitor will be allowed in the maternity ward and neonatal units. 

Hartford HealthCare patients will also have to wait longer for knee or vascular surgeries after the network provider postponed elective surgeries at all locations. HHC is also postponing all community education events.

These new decisions are based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, statewide healthcare organizations and Hartford HealthCare’s COVID-19 Task Force, hospital officials said in a statement. 

“Today we are facing decisions, issues and circumstances unlike anything we’ve seen before,” said Jeffrey Flaks, president and chief executive officer of Hartford HealthCare.

Visitor exceptions will also be made for end of life patients, patient safety and family teaching at the discretion of hospital leadership

Visitors will be asked to drop patients off and provide a contact number for pickup. Routine medical office appointments will require a screening and allow no visitors.

Hartford HealthCare opened its drive-though COVID-19 testing stations Wednesday for patients who have a prescription from a provider to get tested. Patients showing symptoms can call a Hartford Healthcare provider for a referral. Patients without a HHC provider, can call the COVID-19 hotline for a telehealth visit at 860.972.8100 or, toll-free, 833.621.0600.

Hospital officials are working to ensure the public understands the need for a prescription by a HHC physician to get tested. 

“It appears they are getting the message,” said  Dr. William Horgan, regional medical director, quality and safety, Hartford HealthCare.

The availability of tests for the public and hospital staff remains fluidral public, Horgan said.

Twitter: @Cconnbiz