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Former Panera Bread opens as coronavirus testing center in Grand Haven

The North Ottawa Community Health System worked with the Ottawa County health department to ready the location on Beacon Boulevard.
Credit: Courtesy photo
Jessica Eby of Allendale gets screened by nurse Kelly White before entering North Ottawa Community Hospital on Monday afternoon.

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — A remote center to test for the coronavirus will open today in Grand Haven.

The North Ottawa Community Health System worked with the Ottawa County health department to ready the location at the former Panera Bread restaurant in the 1100 block of Beacon Boulevard.

“Because the number of test kits and testing capacity is extremely limited, testing will be done by appointment only,” NOCHS spokesperson Jennifer VanSkiver said Monday. “If a person has symptoms and believes they need to be tested for COVID-19, they should call 616-935-7810.”

If the screener determines that the person should be tested, an appointment will be set.

VanSkiver said guidelines are strict. For example, Holland Hospital started a screening call-in on Friday, and of 200 calls, only 12 passed through the screening to the test phase.

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Those being tested will be able to stay in their vehicle while a medical professional performs a swab test. Once a nasal swab sample is obtained, it will be tested at the North Ottawa Community Hospital lab for flu. If that comes out negative, then the sample will be sent to the state lab for a coronavirus test.

VanSkiver said the turn-around time on the state test is a few days. It could be longer with the number of test sites increasing.

In the meantime, a person who has tested negative for the flu, but is waiting for results on a coronavirus test, will be advised to go home and self-quarantine.

The reason for a remote test site is “to draw symptomatic people away from the hospital,” VanSkiver explained. “This is to alleviate pressure on the emergency services.”

VanSkiver said that they expect unlimited calls, but they do not have unlimited testing capability.

“We’re following the guidelines pretty strictly,” she said.

All services continue to be offered at North Ottawa Community Hospital, but all visitors must be screened, either through the Grand Haven hospital’s main entrance or the emergency room.

“We have really locked down the facility and closed off many entrances,” VanSkiver said.

Trained medical personnel will ask questions and check each person’s temperature before allowing people into the facility.

“We have turned people away today,” VanSkiver said Monday, “and that includes staff.”

Once a person is admitted, he or she will be given a sticker noting their destination area. Staff will make sure the person gets to their destination and right back out when they are done.

“We want to limit unnecessary interactions,” VanSkiver said.

And, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, no visitors are being allowed at NOCHS’ Heartwood Lodge in Spring Lake Township. The only exception is that Hospice patients can have two screened visitors. All care workers are also being screened. 

All Heartwood Lodge residents will be restricted to their areas and meals will be delivered, VanSkiver said. Social workers are helping to keep the residents engaged.

Pharmacy services will be limited to drive-up only. Anyone picking up a prescription will pull up to the sign near the main entrance covered portico, call 616-842-5193 and staff will deliver your order to your car.

VanSkiver said this service has always been offered.

The cashier’s office is closed to the public. Payments may be made online at noch.org (click the “Hospital Online Bill Pay” tab), via patient portal or at the emergency room registration. Anyone with questions can call 616-842-5193.

Bereavement services, breastfeeding support groups and medical weight-loss classes are canceled.

Anyone in need of lactation support should call 616-847-5337 to schedule a call with a lactation specialist. Anyone with questions on the weight-loss classes should call the NOCHS Bariatric Clinic at 616-847-5489.

Sick care express through the pediatric office is also temporarily suspended.

You can stay up to date with changes and announcements from the health system at noch getbetter.com/news/covid-19/.

bvargo@grandhaventribune.com

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