NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Health officials in Nacogdoches County have set up a call center to help identify potential COVID-19 cases.
The call center was established through a partnership between the City of Nacogdoches, Nacogdoches County, Nacogdoches Medical Center, Excel ER, Stephen F. Austin State University, and Nacogdoches Memorial Health.
Wednesday morning the COVID-19 Call Center in Nacogdoches opened after days of planning and collaboration of Nacogdoches hospitals, health care agencies, local governments and SFA.
Call center coordinator Matthew Malloy says it’s a service for the community.
“Anyone in Nacogdoches County or surrounding counties that do not have a health department to reach out to, as long as you’re close to Nacogdoches, we will be available to talk to you,” explained Malloy.
The call center is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The number to call is (936) 468-4787. The Texas state line, which provides a similar resource, can be reached by dialing 211.
Callers of 936-468-4787 are connected first with trained screeners equipped with a list of questions each caller must answer.
“We have the same criteria that are set by the CDC,” said Malloy.
Callers that fall into the high-risk category may be transferred immediately to a consulting physician, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant.
Consulting physician, Dr. Ben Thompson said, "We have direct contact with the Department of Health offices in Tyler with an epidemiologist there."
If it's determined the caller needs to be tested for COVID-19 they will receive specific testing instructions.
"The testing is by appointment only,” stressed Malloy. “They are going to be scheduled. This is not a drive-thru test site."
The call center was quiet Wednesday morning. By noon, following the first positive COVID-19 case in Nacogdoches County, screeners were slammed with incoming calls.
The testing center in Nacogdoches will open on Thursday. It’s a needed service as cases climb in number.
“Which we expect it likely will,” said Thompson. “[When that happens] “We will be able to get more tests available to us."
All results will come from both state and private testing labs. The community is urged to practice all the precautionary measures against the spread of COVID-19.
For questions and concerns, health screening, self-care instructions and testing information you can call the coronavirus call center in Nacogdoches. It is open for calls only Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. That number is 936-468-4787.
Tents have been set up in front of the Nacogdoches Medical Center emergency room. They will be used as overflow space if necessary.
Nacogdoches Memorial is expected to follow suit. The tent at that hospital is for patients with respiratory illness, so they don’t have to co-mingle with other patients, says a hospital spokesperson. These are precautionary measures hospitals are taking to protect their ER visitors.