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Health system providers open up COVID-19 testing sites

Mon Health System and WVU Health System said Thursday they’re suspending all non-essential treatments at the hospitals to protect staff and patients and to ensure there are ample resources to respond to the novel coronavirus pandemic and stop the disease from spreading.

WVU Medicine said it is postponing certain surgeries — including gastrointestinal procedures — until May 15. Mon Health did not indicate a date when its policy would end, but in a press release said it will lift the suspension as “soon as deemed possible.”

“The health, safety and well-being of our patients and Mon Health colleagues is paramount at this time,” Mon Health System CEO and President David Goldberg said in a statement provided by the health system. “Safety is our top priority while we support the community response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Both Morgantown-based health systems are now offering remote testing for the COVID-19 virus that has forced restaurants and bars across the state to offer only take-out and the closing of recreational facilities, casinos, health clubs and gyms.

Plus, West Virginia University stopped most classroom-based lectures and is extending alternative classroom instruction for the remainder of the spring semester. Residence halls at its three campuses are closed as well.

Both health system providers are now offering remote testing for the virus. WVU Medicine’s mobile site in Morgantown is off-campus to avoid congestion. Its other mobile testing sites are in Bridgeport, Wheeling, Martinsburg and Parkersburg. WVU Medicine officials said 166 people were tested Wednesday.

Mon Health, meanwhile, set up a drive-through test site in the Surgicare South area of its Mon Health Medical Center campus in Morgantown. Testing will begin at 9 a.m. today. Additional Mon Health drive-through sites are being planned and will be announced when ready.

To get the tests, a person must have a doctor’s order. Tests are being limited to at-risk people who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 — fever, difficulty breathing and coughing.

“We are limiting tests at this point due to national supply constraints,” Anthony Condia, WVU Medicine’s chief marketing and communications officer, said in an email.

“Patients must also have a physician order for the test. We will not test people who show up without a physician order. We also ask referring providers use their clinical judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms consistent with COVID-19.”

The CDC said Thursday 143 people have been tested in West Virginia. Two are positive and three are pending.

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The Morgantown test site is one of five set up by WVU Medicine around the state.