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Around-The-Clock COVID-19 Screening: Inside Hartford HealthCare's Call Center

Frankie Graziano
Connecticut Public Radio
Dr. William Horgan, Hartford HealthCare's regional medical director of quality and safety, was among the workers inside the network's COVID-19 command center in Newington on Tuesday, March 10. Callers there talk to concerned patients and providers.

Hartford HealthCare has set up a COVID-19 command center in Newington for workers to answer questions from Connecticut residents who want to know more about the disease.

At least 10 people are available around the clock to take questions from concerned residents and health care providers.

Diane Wade, an admissions coordinator with Hartford HealthCare, said she hears callers asking “everything from A to Z.”

“They want to know everything about, if they get a package from Hong Kong versus what kind of Purell to buy,” Wade said.

Officials at Hartford HealthCare prefer that people call rather than come into network facilities without proper precautions being taken. When a call comes in, the biggest red flag is an individual with flu-like symptoms who has recently traveled to countries deemed high-risk by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Those countries are China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea.

“Our team will advise them to go to a specific place within the Hartford HealthCare location,” said Dr. Ajay Kumar, chief clinical officer for Hartford HealthCare. “We will inform the location this individual is coming at this time so the colleagues can take care of their precautions and the individual can be safely taken care of.”

He said older people and those with serious illness showing signs of COVID-19 will be treated similarly, while others who have so-called “mild” cases will be asked to self-quarantine.

Hartford HealthCare is also taking other steps to mitigate exposure to COVID-19, such as keeping most visitors out of its hospitals.

“We’re … advising that only one visitor can visit the patient,” Kumar said, noting that the advisory applies to acute hospital care.

“Now, there are some exceptions: mom who’s delivering a baby, some individual who is at the end of life -- we want to be compassionate to our community at this time,” Kumar said.

Visitors will be screened by hospital workers, who want to determine whether those coming in have symptoms or whether they’ve just returned from any of the five high-risk countries.

Residents with concerns or questions about the coronavirus can call the COVID-19 hotline at 860-972-8100.

Frankie Graziano is the host of The Wheelhouse, focusing on how local and national politics impact the people of Connecticut.

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