Home-based Testing for SARS-CoV-2: Leveraging Prehospital Resources for Vulnerable Populations
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.5811/westjem.2020.5.47769
Introduction: Expanded testing for SARS-CoV-2 is critical to characterizing the extent of community spread of COVID-19 and to identifying infectious cohorts. Unfortunately, current facility-based testing compounds shortcomings in testing availability, neglecting those who are frail or physically unable to travel to a testing facility.
Methods: We developed an emergency medical service (EMS)-based home testing and evaluation program, leveraging existing community EMS resources. This program has kept vulnerable populations out of the emergency department, reduced cost, and improved access to care.
Results: Our EMS-based testing program can test approximately 15 homebound patients per day. Through April 2020 our program had performed 477 home-based tests. Additionally, we have recently undertaken several mass testing operations, testing up to 900 patients per testing site.
Conclusion: Facility-based SARS-CoV-2 testing requires that a patient physically present to a facility for a nasopharyngeal swap to be collected. Unfortunately, access may be limited for patients that are homebound, chronically ill, or without a means of private transportation. By leveraging existing EMS infrastructure in new ways, our community has been able to keep almost 500 vulnerable patients in their home. Using EMS, we can strengthen the healthcare system’s response to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic and support at-risk populations, including those that are underserved, homebound, and frail.