Rapid outreach and community testing begins in Georgetown

Medical staff conduct initial COVID-19 screening and assessment Wednesday through a partnership effort held in Georgetown. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

GEORGETOWN — Concerted efforts to address the alarming spike in the spread of coronavirus in central Sussex County are officially in sync.

The first in a series of drive-thru clinics buoyed through partnership geared to aggressively expand COVID-19 screening, testing and follow-up care in Sussex County played out Wednesday in the College Park business section of Georgetown.

People in vehicles in the parking lots between the Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic and JD Shuckers restaurant waited in synchronized lines for drive-thru screening, patient assessment, testing and antibody testing.

“We are doing screening and assessing of patients, who have symptoms for COVID. We’re also working with patients who are asymptomatic,” said Stephen Keiser, Vice President of Operations for Beebe Medical Group. “We have both testing that we are doing for the COVID as well as the rapid antibodies test. We’re doing this specifically, because we have been allocated resources from the state to do antibody testing, which we know is something the public and we are all very interested in understanding and understanding its role in this disease management.”

Stephen Keiser, Beebe Medical Group’s Vice President of Operations, and Shannon Hager, Beebe Medical Group’s Clinical Coordinator, take a brief break during Wednesday’s COVID-19 screening/testing in Georgetown. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

In response to an explosive increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Sussex, notably the greater Georgetown area, the expanded testing plan includes three days of free testing for Sussex County residents.

In partnership, Beebe is collaborating with the Delaware Division of Public Health, La Red Health Center, Westside Family Healthcare, Nemours Pediatrics and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Georgetown. Town of Georgetown police provided security and traffic/staging monitoring.

“We are here today because of the concentration that has recently come up in Georgetown and in meeting the needs of the community, we’re doing both tests,” said Mr. Keiser. “We’re working with those patients to also provide education, social services in terms of alternative housing for those need it in order to recover from the disease and manage the disease appropriately.”

Additional screening/testing at the Georgetown location just off Del. 404 across from Delaware Technical Community College is scheduled Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Meanwhile, Bayhealth, in partnership with the Governor’s office, the Division of Public Health and other health care systems, will provide walk-up/drive-up community testing at the DHSS State Services Center in Milford, 253 NE Front St. from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. These dates are: Thursday, April 30; Monday, May 4; Saturday, May 9; Saturday, May 2; Thursday, May 7; and Monday, May 11.

Coronavirus testing is available for all ages. Nemours A.I. duPont will be available to provide pediatric patient testing.

No appointment is necessary.

Nanticoke Memorial Hospital next week we will be offering a community drive-thru clinic.

This expanded community testing is geared to high-risk populations: those with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, those living or working with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, family members or housemates of those working in the poultry industry, and those with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, hypertension, or compromised immune systems.

“We were approached by the state to help put this process together,” said Mr. Keiser. “That coalition is allowing us to deliver this expanded robust care today for our community. We are relying on the state for resources, so we are in a very good position.”

Wednesday’s round and future rounds of testing feature two types of tests: rapid antibody testing, provided by the state Division of Public Health, which is done by a finger stick; and the PCR test, which is done by a nasal or oral swab.

Additionally, the state is providing contact tracing services, which Mr. Keiser labels “a very important strategy and a newer strategy across the nation about how we track where it is and how to get ahead of it from an education and control standpoint.”

Same-day care was also offered at Beebe’s COVID Positive Care Clinic, which has temporarily taken over Beebe’s Georgetown Walk-In facility located in the College Park development.

“If a patient is triaged and known to need same-day care that can help them with their management, we are able to do that,” Mr. Keiser said. “It also includes lab services and x-rays.”

Approximately 80 staff members, including about 55 from Beebe, manned various stations at Wednesday’s event.

Shannon Hager, RN, who is Beebe Medical Group’s Clinical Coordinator and testing nurse manager, has been on the testing frontlines since mid-March.

“I think this is amazing. It is something that the community needs and wants,” said Ms. Hager. “We’re here to serve our patients, and whatever we can do to get that done for them is what we want to do.”

The partnership attempted to cover all bases for communication. The Georgetown area and other parts of the county have a heavy Hispanic population, along with a large Haitian Creole population.

“We have several bilingual staff members. We also have a Haitian Creole staff member as well,” said Ms. Hager. “We feel like we have enough people stationed throughout the whole process to make sure that everybody understands what we are trying to do.”

“We have a really large representation of bilingual people working today. A lot of that is due to the partnership across the community. I thought it was close to 50 percent by the show of hands this morning,” said Mr. Keiser. “We made sure all of our literature was translated. We also made sure we had people who can speak face-to-face and assist patients.”

Within the COVID Care Clinic, Beebe has translation resources of IRIS (Instant Remote Interpretation Service), which has a “translator” on a FaceTime-type feature that can see and talk with the patient and also do sign language. “That is a wonderful resource for the clinic. So, if we needed to move a patient into the clinic, we can meet any language barrier.” Mr. Keiser said.

Wednesday, the estimated time in line was 20 to 30 minutes once a vehicle hit the beginning process to the end.

“Most people are saying, ‘Thank you for being here; thanks for helping, thanks for doing what you do.’ They are very grateful that we are here offering the service,” said Ms. Hager.

“Shannon’s team has been running these since March 14,” said Mr. Keiser. “We’ve seen through the whole process every day how patients are scared and need information. Shannon and her team have done a tremendous job of meeting those patients’ needs … and giving them the education.”

“I’ve had multiple conversations when registering patients there is a huge appreciation from the patients when we just share with them the knowledge, we have about disease management, about self-quarantine, about self-isolation,” Mr. Keiser said. “When a patient has an opportunity to have a trusted source like Shannon and a clinician who has been doing this, it’s tremendous and it helps support that pathway. We’ve tried to build something that can take care of patients who need testing, need screening, needs care and also needs education and contact and communication – six feet or more of contact for communication.”

“We are hoping as we are visible in the community that they, the community, understands we are here to care for them and provide the education resources through this process,” said Mr. Keiser.

Testing, Rapid Test Antibody

The rapid antibody test is made available to people who are screened and not having symptoms of the virus. People receiving that test will pull into a waiting area along the testing route to wait for their results (approximately 15 minutes).

If the rapid antibody test is negative, they receive a nasal or oral swab to confirm that they are COVID-19 negative. The next stop will be a confidential meeting to receive information on how to keep themselves and their families safe.

If the test is negative, the patient is given information on symptom monitoring, and leaves the testing route. It is important to stress the rapid antibody test does not tell someone whether or not they currently have the virus. It tells them if their body is fighting an infection from the virus that causes COVID-19.

Those who are screened to have symptoms for COVID-19 will received the nasal or oral swab test. Test results are expected back in four to six days, and patients will receive those results from their primary care provider or a Beebe Medical Group provider. The PCR (oral or nasal) test does tell someone whether they are actively infected with COVID-19.

Nanticoke Memorial testing in Seaford

Scheduled to start next week, Nanticoke’s drive-thru clinic will be held Tuesdays from 2 to 7 p.m. and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Frederick Douglass Elementary School.

It will provide screenings, mandatory education and social services support for at risk populations in the area.

Nanticoke Memorial spokeswoman Sharon Harrington notes that this is a clinic, not a quick screening.

“It will take about 20 to 30 minutes for a car to move through the entire testing and education process. It is targeted to help those at-risk, those that have an exposure through the poultry plants, or those who do not have access to a primary care provider,” Ms. Harrington said.

Spanish and Haitian Creole interpreters will be on-site each day. The goal of these clinics is to provide those that are positive with appropriate education and follow up, and for all, positive or negative, that safety information around quarantining, social distancing and other prevention is given, Ms. Harrington said.

Frederick Douglass Elementary School is located at 1 Swain Road in Seaford, near the Nanticoke Memorial campus.

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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