ASC considers in-house alternative to 'overwhelmed' hospital testing center — 3 insights

After Covenant High Plains Surgery Center Administrator Alfonso del Granado shared his center's "all-of-the-above" approach to patient and staff safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, Becker's ASC Review followed up for more details on lab capacity, billing and employee requirements at the Lubbock, Texas, ASC.

Note: Responses were lightly edited for style and clarity. Click here to read the first installment in this series.

Question: Where do you send patients for COVID-19 testing?

Alfonso del Granado: We are still sending patients to the hospital to be swabbed, but their testing center is being overwhelmed — it's a matter of physical space, not personnel or testing supplies or capacity. At their request, we're looking into swabbing our patients who need COVID testing only at our centers (about 20 percent of our volume).

Details are pending, but we will definitely be doing something. Anyone sending their healthy patients to a hospital or lab should look into whether they are experiencing long waits and cramped quarters, and if they are mixing with patients who are there to be tested for suspected COVID, which increases risk.

Q: How do you handle billing for COVID-19 testing?

AG: The hospital lab is billing patients' insurance directly.

Q: Do you test center physicians and staff as well, or just patients?

AG: At this time, we are not routinely testing all physicians and staff; we're relying on screening, masking, distancing and assiduous hygiene protocols. Symptomatic staff are sent for testing, and while we have had positive staff and physicians, there have been no outbreaks at our centers, hospitals or their homes. Education and mindfulness are powerful tools in this struggle.

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