Providers wishing to send specimens to the State Public Health Lab (SPHL) for testing should call 615-741-7247 to consult with a public health COVID-19 response team member. Testing at SPHL is prioritized for individuals who are critically ill, reside in long-term care facilities, are symptomatic health care workers or have contact with large numbers of individuals on a regular basis, are immunosuppressed or pregnant, are contacts of a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19, or who have traveled from a geographic area that is significantly affected by this outbreak (Italy, Japan, China, South Korea, Iran, Washington state). SPHL will also test symptomatic individuals who are without insurance coverage.
Providers can and should take care of their own patients as they are able and should maximize the use of telehealth and phone triage rather than having patients come to clinic when possible. We expect additional telehealth guidance to be coming out shortly.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be used, but N95 masks are not required except in situations where aerolization of secretions is likely (suctioning, intubation). Staff who will be within 6 feet of a suspect case should wear a surgical mask, and these patients should be taken to a private room with minimum/streamlined staff interaction as quickly as possible. Symptomatic patients should be masked immediately. Outpatient staff with direct contact with suspect patients should wear eye protection, a surgical mask, gown, and gloves. Additional guidance re PPE is in the testing link above.
Testing requires a standard synthetic nasopharyngeal swab. The swab must be polyester or dacron (not cotton or calcium alginate) and placed in viral transport medium (VTM). Label the specimen with patient name and DOB and place in the refrigerator until testing is arranged. These are not COVID-19 “kits” – use the same materials you would use for influenza or other viral lab based testing.
Any patient who is suspected of being infected with coronavirus should be masked with a surgical mask immediately. If they are deemed stable to return home after evaluation (most cases), they are to be placed in isolation until test results return.