COVID-19 testing in the ER: Doctors, hospital staff asking community members to go elsewhere

Posted at 5:30 PM, Jan 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-11 18:15:12-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A trend is developing inside Lexington’s hospitals, and it’s adding to an already taxing workload for hospital staff members.

“We are running into a lot of problems with patients coming to the emergency department, simply for testing,” said Dr. Mark Spanier, the medical director for the emergency department at Baptist Health of Lexington.

Spainer and several of his colleagues from the city’s other hospitals came together on Tuesday morning to ask community members to stay away from the emergency room when seeking a COVID-19 test.

“I started having symptoms a few days ago of COVID, and I knew I had to be tested. I could’ve gone to my own emergency department and been tested, rapidly,” Dr. Spanier explained.

Spanier rather went to Wild Health and waited his turn so not to burden the staff at Baptist Health.

The Omicron Variant is raging almost out of control, and it’s proving to be debilitating for those who remain unvaccinated. On Monday, UK Hospital administered more than 150 tests, and the positivity rate on those came back greater than 50%.

“If you have cold symptoms, if you have a fever, chills, at this point it’s probably safe to say you are positive and should consider yourself positive,” said Dr. Roger Humphries, the director of emergency medicine at UK.

Humphries said the last 22 months have been incredibly difficult on hospital employees, and part of it is because there just seems to be no end in sight.

“We all had this mindset that it (COVID-19) would be a one-time, horrible problem that we addressed and got through, and that isn’t happening,” he said. “We’re managing, but our staff is tired and getting sick themselves,” he added.

On Tuesday morning, UK reported 119 patients admitted with COVID-19. 32 of those are in ICU and another 15 are needing breathing assistance from a ventilator.

The system continues to be overwhelmed, and testing, be it asymptomatic or symptomatic, is not helping the hospitals best utilize their limited resources.