Call center connects Delawareans without PCPs to virus tests

Every day, the Division of Public Health gets somewhere between 25 to 85 calls from Delawareans without primary care physicians who need to be screened for COVID-19, officials said.

DPH’s call center, at 866-408-1899 or 711 for those who are hearing impaired, is one of several operating in the state to connect those without doctors to tests, should their symptoms warrant it. Individuals can also call the call centers for ChristianaCare, at 1-302-733-1000, or Bayhealth, at 1-302-310-8477, said Stacey Hofmann, a spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture who is helping to handle queries for the DPH during the global pandemic. They can also email DPHCall@Delaware.gov.

“The numbers in the DPH call center have dropped significantly since we have partnered with United Way of Delaware to triage calls through Delaware 2-1-1,” she said in an email. “We still receive calls directly for individuals who do not have a primary care provider and need screening to determine if they should be tested for COVID-19.”

When an individual who is exhibiting symptoms goes through their PCP, that provider determines if it is necessary and either tests at the office, or writes an order or prescription for testing. PCPs then refer the patient to a standing health facility testing site via phone or email contact. Symptoms may include fever, shortness of breath, coughing sore throat, muscle fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain or lack of appetite.

Those without a PCP would follow a similar route.

Jen Brestel, a spokesperson for DPH, said that when someone calls the line, they are connected with medical staff on site for an evaluation.

“Just like a primary care doctor would do for their patients, medical personnel are screening individuals to determine if they meet the criteria to be tested and then will provide the order to go to a testing site to have a specimen collected,” Ms. Hofmann said.

Teleconsultation is preferred, though in-person examinations could be warranted, she said.

Ms. Brestel added that, through the main DPH call center number, the operator connects to a language line to assist with individuals who do not speak English.

Testing is free. There are four testing sites in New Castle, one in Kent and five in Sussex. These are not walk-in sites and, regardless of having a primary care doctor or not, individuals must have a referral for testing.


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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