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Hendrick Health’s COVID-19 Screening and Treatment tool improving testing efficiency

When Hendrick Health announced its COVID-19 screening and treatment tool, no Taylor County residents had yet received a positive test result. Since then, hundreds of individuals have been assessed and tested for COVID-19 using the virtual system.

With limited specimen collection supplies and no tests available in Abilene at the time of set-up, Hendrick leaders determined that offering a continuum of care tool would best meet the needs of its community, while maintaining the safest process for all concerned.

“We needed a solution, and felt that our virtual triage method would be the best way to keep community members and our staff safe from possible spread of the virus,” said Brad Holland, president and CEO for Hendrick Health. “The process begins with an online assessment on a smartphone or computer, allowing participants to remain in the safety of their own homes. In fact, it’s possible that patients scoring in the low-risk category would not have to leave their homes at all for assessments.”

Once the assessment is submitted, the individual will be notified if he/she is considered low risk or high risk for the virus. If in the low-risk category, the participant will receive education on home care. If at high risk, the patient will be directed to the Hendrick Call Center for additional screening. The Call Center is open 24/7. If further examination is required, the patient will be scheduled for a telehealth visit with the Screening Clinic. Because these first steps are completed from the safety of the individual’s own home, unnecessary exposure to others is avoided.

Collected specimens are sent to Hendrick Regional Laboratory or CPL in Austin for COVID-19 testing. Lab results can be completed in approximately 2.5 to 3 hours at Hendrick, and within 48-72 CPL.

“This process not only helps patients, it also helps health workers stay safe while reducing the amount of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) used,” said Holland. “In drive-through testing, medical personnel rapidly go through PPE. With initial screenings done virtually, we can safely identify those that truly need more care and conserve vital resources.”

If patients need to physically visit the screening clinic for testing, medical personnel will meet the patients at their vehicles. To rule out other illnesses, such as influenza or strep, rapid tests may be performed while patients remain in their vehicles. Then, if COVID-19 testing criteria is met, a swab will be collected at the patient’s vehicle, and the patient will be sent home to self-quarantine until results come back. Those patients also will receive the City of Abilene’s COVID-19 Care Guide. Patients who require additional care will be sent immediately to the Emergency Care Center.

“We are very proud of the steps we have taken to help flatten the curve and reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said Holland. “Our employees have been working tirelessly to ensure that our community and co-workers remain safe and healthy.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing a fever, cough and/or shortness of breath or have been exposed to someone with a confirmed positive of COVID-19, please complete the online screening by texting “covidhelp” to 325-216-4824 or visit