HCN News & Notes

Consider the Right Option for COVID Testing and Care 

SPRINGFIELD Hospital emergency departments, which treat the most critically ill and injured patients, are not appropriate to seek COVID-19 testing. 


As the demand for COVID-19 testing increases and the virus once again surges in the community, Baystate Health emergency departments are seeing more and more patients showing up at its doors for COVID tests that could be done at home or community sites specified by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. 


“Going to the ED for non-emergency COVID-19 testing without serious symptoms requiring immediate attention, such as shortness of breath or chest pain which could be symptomatic of COVID-19 or other critical illness, diverts essential, live-saving resources from patients who are experiencing a true emergency,” said Dr. Andrew Artenstein, chief physician executive and chief academic officer at Baystate Health. 


“The hot weather months are the busiest times of the year in our emergency departments and that is only exacerbated by holiday weekends such as Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day,” he added. 


To find a COVID testing site near you, visit https://www.mass.gov/info-details/find-a-covid-19-test. Early COVID-19 testing is particularly critical if you have any of the conditions associated with serious COVID-19 illness regardless of your vaccination status since early treatment is highly recommended.  


At-home over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic tests authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are available, either through reimbursement or free of charge through your insurance or at sites throughout local communities.  Also, every home in the U.S. is now eligible to order a third round of free at-home tests at www.covid.gov/tests 


If you need assistance placing your order, call 1-800-232-0233 or TTY at 1-888-720-7489. 


“If you have been fully vaccinated with a booster shot for COVID-19, it is very likely that the symptoms you experience will be mild and that you will not require hospitalization,” said Artenstein. 


“However, some people with certain health problems and conditions — those who are age 65 years and older, people who are morbidly obese and those with a weakened immune system — are more likely to experience serious symptoms with COVID-19 requiring hospitalization,” he added.