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Novant Health will put up triage tent to help capacity at Rowan Medical Center

SALISBURY — As part of additional protective measures, Novant Health says it’s going to put up a triage tent outside of its hospital in Salisbury to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

In a news release on Friday, the health care company said it was creating a 24/7 hotline as well as opening screening centers and putting up triage tents at certain sites. The measures follow announcements by Novant Health and other health care companies that those who aren’t immediate family members should refrain from visiting patients, regardless of age or health.

“The community needs to know Novant Health has immediately and appropriately activated all protocols for handling potential COVID-19 cases, for which we have been preparing since the onset many months ago,” said Carl S. Armato, president and CEO of Novant Health. “We understand people in our communities are feeling uncertain and stressed in these unprecedented times. I’m hopeful that with these additional measures in place, our patients will have a clearer sense of how should they seek care if they feel they need to in the weeks ahead.”

Human coronaviruses circulate commonly in the U.S. and usually cause mild illnesses like the common cold. The disease known as COVID-19 is caused by a new coronavirus that does not have a vaccine and is spreading around the U.S. According to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, there are at least 23 cases of people who have been confirmed positive or been presumed positive for COVID-19. There were at least 1,629 total cases and 41 deaths in the U.S. as of Friday, with 46 states and the District of Columbia reporting cases.

Novant Health said triage tents would be set up outside of emergency departments at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center, Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center and Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center.

At the tents, patients with respiratory and other viral symptoms, including fever, shortness of breath and a sore throat, will be screened and triaged to determine further treatment. All Novant Health emergency departments are designating well and sick areas inside the facilities, as well.

“Triage tents will help ensure Novant Health is able to both respond to those who potentially need to be screened for COVID-19 and continue to serve all patients who need emergent care at its acute facilities,” Novant Health said in a news release.

The 24/7 hotline (1-877-499-1697) is designed for patients without a primary care physician who are experiencing symptoms and have questions about how best to seek care. All community members are being encouraged to call their health care provider, first, before driving to clinics in order to help curb the spread of possible infection.

Starting Friday, screening centers opened at 600 Highland Oaks Drive in Winston-Salem and 3330 Siskey Parkway in Matthews. On Wednesday, additional screening centers will be open at 111 Gateway Center Drive in Kernersville and 16525 Holly Crest Lane Suite 120 in Huntersville. Novant Health said the screening centers would be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and that people should not visit the centers unnecessarily because it will only further one’s risk of exposure.

“Since the onset of the coronavirus, Novant Health has worked diligently to ensure we can meet the needs of our patients and the communities we serve,” Armato said. “Our existing emergency preparedness infrastructure, as well as our ability to respond in real time, will continue to help us effectively manage this ever-evolving situation.”

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