Northeast Ohio is currently experiencing a surge in COVID-19 infections and increased demand for healthcare services, particularly in our emergency departments. To best serve our patients in need of emergency services, Greater Cleveland’s hospital systems will limit COVID-19 testing in emergency departments to patients who are going to be admitted to the hospital. The change went into effect on Tuesday, December 21, at all University Hospitals, Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth System, and St. Vincent Charity Medical Center locations.
Urgent cares and ambulatory locations
We are also are no longer providing COVID‑19 testing in Urgent Cares and ambulatory locations for asymptomatic patients other than as required for medical procedures or hospital admission.COVID-19 testing by University Hospitals will be limited to symptomatic patients who require medical evaluation. The option to test, if medically necessary, remains a decision of each patient’s treating provider.
The Ohio Department of Health, University Hospitals and the Cleveland Clinic ask those in need of testing to utilize alternate testing sites. This will allow emergency department personnel to focus on urgent medical emergencies, as the hospital systems continue to treat record numbers of patients for COVID-19. Visit State of Ohio’s coronavirus website to find other local testing centers.
The Ohio Department of Health is offering free rapid at-home antigen testing kits at many sites across the state of Ohio, including local health departments, public libraries and community health centers. These self-testing kits may also be available for purchase at local pharmacies and retailers. Tests are also available by mail at https://www.covidtests.gov/.It is important to know, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, that a patient who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and receives a positive test result on a home antigen test (self-test kit) does not need a PCR test to confirm a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, and should immediately isolate and work with public health officials for any necessary contact tracing. Using the rapid tests when available will give patients in need of a PCR test faster access to testing.
People who are in medical distress are still encouraged to utilize the emergency departments, or call 911.