Prisma Health adds in-house COVID-19 testing and universal team member masking to its growing response to COVID-19

(GREENVILLE, SC) – Prisma Health has added in-house COVID-19 sample testing at the end of last week in both the Midlands and Upstate. Even though in-house testing is still being done on limited basis, it is already quickly reducing the number of patients awaiting COVID-19 test results at the hospitals, which helps reduce the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Being able to test internally has decreased waiting time for test results from days to a few hours.

Dr. Scott Sasser, incident commander for Prisma Health’s COVID-19 response, said, “The faster testing is a game-changer for Prisma Health and our frontline healthcare workers. It will allow us to more quickly identify patients who test negative and otherwise would require the COVID-19-level of isolated care and the use of multiple days of protective equipment throughout their care.”

In-house testing is limited due to the large national demand for testing supplies, but an increase in supplies is expected in the coming weeks. A cross-functional work team developed specific criteria to prioritize how the in-house testing will be used until supply availability improves. Sasser said that Prisma Health continues working on securing additional testing capacity.

In addition, beginning Thursday, April 2, Prisma Health launches a new universal masking policy requiring surgical masks to be worn by all hospital-based team members who have contact with patients and visitors. Physician practices will implement the policy on Monday and Tuesday, April 6-7. Team members will be issued surgical masks when they enter their work site, in addition to having their temperature taken.

“This is not just for nursing and physicians, it includes team members in Environmental Services, Food and Nutrition, Admissions – anyone who comes in contact with any patient,” Sasser added.

The new team member universal masking policy details include:

  • All team members who enter clinical buildings or physician practices that encounter patients or visitors will be provided a daily mask and paper bag for storing the mask.
  • Masks will be worn in any common or shared areas of their clinical facility.
  • Team members will be provided directions for proper donning and doffing of the mask to enhance fit and safety. They will be asked to perform strict hand hygiene to avoid unintentional contamination of the mask.
  • If the mask becomes soiled, a replacement mask will be provided.
  • When team members participate in the performance of an aerosol-generating procedure (AGP) with a patient, they will use an N95 respirator and follow current PPE guidelines.
  • This policy does not change masking procedures for team members caring for confirmed COVID-19 positive patients and for patients awaiting test results.
  • At the end of the work day, team members will discard the mask.

Prisma Health also continues to urge patients to use its Prisma Health Virtual Visit, which is free for anyone seeking care for potential COVID-19. To access the free virtual visits, use promo code COVID19 at PrismaHealth.org/VirtualVisit.

For more information about Prisma Health’s COVID-19 overall response, visit www.prismahealth.org/coronavirus.

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