With COVID-19 cases mounting across the commonwealth and now including two cases in surrounding areas to Halifax County, Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital clarified Friday night that there have not been any confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital.
This was after an automated text message sent out to patients with upcoming appointments caused confusion and the misconception that there was a local positive case of the coronavirus.
Faith O’Neil, customer development and marketing consultant with Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital said on Sunday she believes the wording of the message was “misconstrued.”
She also noted that some alerts are going out cooperate-wide that could cause some confusion.
“We sincerely apologize for any confusion this caused. Thank you for allowing us to care for you,” as was stated in a Facebook post on Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital’s page.
The automated text message also came after the Southside Health District announced Friday its first COVID-19 case in the district, a male resident of Mecklenburg County in his 50s who had contact with a person in another part of Virginia who was diagnosed with COVID-19.
The individual is isolated at home and monitoring his health.
Also, the Pittsylvania-Danville Health District announced Sunday morning its first case of the illness in a resident of the district. The patient is a male in his 40s. The patient is hospitalized, following exposure to a known positive COVID-19 case elsewhere in Virginia.
As of noon Sunday, there were 219 cases in Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Health. It updates the number of cases online daily at noon.
Krysta Luzynski, epidemiologist with the Southside Health District, confirmed Thursday that Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital and the health department have the ability to test for the coronavirus.
“At this time, there are zero cases of COVID-19 in Halifax County. Unfortunately, given the fact that healthcare facilities that contract with LabCorp and Quest have the ability to order tests independently, I am unable to give you an accurate estimate for the number of individuals tested from Halifax County,” she added.
She also said Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital has an “adequate supply of tests.”
If anyone believes he or she may have COVID-19, Luzynski said the individual should contact their primary care physician.
“Be sure to call ahead to alert the facility that you think you may have have COVID-19. This ensures that proper infection control measures are in place for your arrival. Your provider will assess your symptoms and your potential exposure. He or she may also order rapid flu, RSV, or strep tests, depending on your symptoms. Should these come back negative, your primary care provider may call the health department to decide whether a COVID-19 test would be appropriate,” she added.
Also on Sunday, another white tent was mounted at Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital, but this time placed outside of the emergency room.
Three other tents are located in a lower parking lot for when and if drive-thru testing of COVID-19 is necessary in the area.
Previously O’Neil said, “Sentara is piloting expanded alternative screening spaces for COVID-19 to ensure the safety of patients, staff and the community at large, should they be required.”
However, this new tent is not necessarily only for possible coronavirus patients, but O’Neil said it’s a triage tent for anyone who could be showing respiratory symptoms.
She said in the future this tent would allow them to assess patients’ symptoms before they come into the emergency room, give a mask if necessary and take them straight back to a pod rather than them having to wait in the waiting room.
“Whether it be COVID-19, the flu or another respiratory illness,” said O’Neil.
It is undetermined at this time when that tent will be put to use, she added.