New Policies to Keep Patients Safe During COVID-19

April 23, 2020

COVID-19 lab testing at Denver Health

Denver Health Testing All Hospital Patients for COVID-19

Denver Health has joined other hospitals around the country to begin COVID-19 testing for all patients who are admitted to the hospital, regardless of whether they have symptoms of the virus or not. The new testing strategy started on Wednesday and will continue as long as it is deemed necessary by hospital infectious disease leaders.

The decision to test all patients was made following studies of COVID-19 that have shown that some people can exhibit mild or atypical symptoms of COVID-19, and in some cases not knowing they have the virus at all. Our goal is to identify and isolate these patients appropriately and early in their hospital stay in order to minimize exposure to employees and other patients.

Denver Health Chief Quality Officer Tom MacKenzie, MD said Denver Health is expanding its testing capacity because it is getting easier to obtain the proper testing supplies.

The tests will be conducted on site, at Denver Health's lab, and results are expected to be available within 24 hours. They will be conducted on all patients, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. For patients with health insurance, insurance companies are required to cover the cost of COVID-19 testing and your insurance company will be billed directly. For Colorado Indigent Care Program and Denver Health Financial Assistance Program (CICP/DFAP) patients, there is no cost for the testing, but there may be a co-pay for the associated visit. Self-pay patients will be billed Denver Health’s Self-pay rate for all services related to COVID 19, and are encouraged to apply for assistance through our enrollment department if needed. There may be additional costs for all patients for any other services that are provided at the time the testing is performed.

Limited Denver Health COVID-19 Testing Locations

Some Denver Health Family Health Centers are conducting limited drive-through COVID-19 testing for Denver Health patients who have an order from a Denver Health provider and an appointment to get tested. Testing is limited to less than 200 tests per day per location and is not available without an order from a provider and an appointment. Results are usually available within 24 hours.

“We don't do any walk-ups, but we've been able to gradually increase the volume of testing we're doing at those sites,” Dr. MacKenzie told Colorado Public Radio. "Now, we are actively reaching out to patients, so that we can get people into testing who may not call with concerns about their symptoms. We think there are probably a number of people who are staying at home with symptoms and don't really realize that they could have access to testing."

Current and new Denver Health patients who sign up for the free MyChart app can take a survey about their symptoms and if their provider believes they have symptoms of COVID-19 and needs a test, they will be given an appointment to get tested.

Denver Health urgent care locations are also offering testing with a doctor's order or to those who are showing signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Test results are expected to be available within 24 hours. For patients with health insurance, insurance companies are required to cover the cost of COVID-19 testing and your insurance company will be billed directly. Self-pay patients will be billed Denver Health’s Self-pay rate for all services related to COVID-19. There may be additional costs for all patients for any other services that are provided at the time the testing is performed.

Denver Health has tested about 4,000 people in the last 30 days.

COVID-19 Testing for Homeless and Nursing Home Patients

Denver Health is currently working on plans to expand testing for those in nursing facilities and those experiencing homelessness.

“We think those are areas where we could see a rapid rise in cases if we don't identify them early,” Dr. MacKenzie said. He added that it's important to regularly monitor homeless shelters for infections to stop the spread among the homeless population.

We are working with Colorado’s Coalition for the Homeless on a testing strategy.

Screening and Masking of Patients at All Denver Health Locations During COVID-19

Denver Health is beginning the process of screening all patients at all hospital and clinic locations. That includes our nine Family Health Centers. Patients can expect to be questioned about symptoms of COVID-19, have their temperatures taken and be given a mask to wear, if they are not already wearing one.

Temperature screening is already underway at the Family Health Centers and is expected to begin at the main hospital next week.

A NO VISITOR POLICY remains in effect at all Denver Health medical facilities, with limited exceptions.

Curbside and Mail-Order Pharmacy Service During COVID-19

In an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, all Denver Health Pharmacies will begin delivering medications to our patients' cars. The new curbside service is to avoid having patients come into our buildings and help reassure patients who need to come into the clinics that our spaces are safe for seeking or providing care.

Patients who use the free MyChart app can request or refill their medications from the comfort and safety of their homes. MyChart also gives patients the option to have their prescriptions delivered to them through the mail, so they can avoid having to leave their homes and risk exposure to the virus.

Denver Health is committed to keeping our patients, employees and the community safe during COVID-19 through these efforts. For updated information throughout the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, visit DenverHealth.org/coronavirus.