By Scott Prater | Mountaineer staff
Editor’s note: This was updated as of Wednesday. For the most up-to-date information visit https://www.carson.army.mil/, and follow Facebook @USArmyFortCarson.
FORT CARSON, Colo— In an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, Fort Carson officially established a Consolidated Screening and Testing Center (CSTC) March 18, 2020.
The CSTC was set up at the Soldier Family Care Center (SFCC) wing of Evans Army Community Hospital (EACH) and will be open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.
“We are probably overly cautious here at Fort Carson for a great reason: We want to be able to provide the very best for our Soldiers and their Families,” said Col. Eric Edwards, commander, EACH. “The differing response is an opportunity to build trust within the post’s community and preserve force readiness.”
The CSTC will provide screening, testing and treatment for patients with symptoms associated with COVID-19, such as fever, cough and shortness of breath. The consolidation of patients to one area of the facility will help minimize the possible spread of COVID-19.
“We recognize many folks in the community have a ton of questions and some may not be feeling well,” said Dr. Nathan Evans, chief medical officer for COVID-19 operations at Fort Carson. “We are trying to meet that demand for our patients. So they may reach out to their doctor or nurse and say, ‘I’m not feeling well and I have a bunch of questions.’ Well, that’s exactly what this CSTC has been set up for. We encourage those folks to communicate over the telephone with their doctor, nurse or care team to see how they are doing and answer their questions. If it turns out they do need to come over for testing, we can collect samples to exclude COVID-19 virus. This is where they would come.”
Patients visiting the CSTC will need to bring their DOD ID card and a list of current prescriptions. Children age 10 and up will also need to bring their DOD ID card.
Traffic control points have been established along Cochrane Circle outside the hospital to direct patients and staff to designated parking areas, to include parking for those visiting the CSTC for screening.
Entrance to EACH will be consolidated to three entryways for visitors. The west entrance will serve as the entry for all staff and patients who are considered well and not exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. Each person entering the west entrance will have their temperature taken before proceeding.
Staff and patients who are sick or showing symptoms will enter through the SFCC entrance for access to the CSTC for screening. The hospital’s emergency department remains operational and able to receive all patients with urgent and emergent medical needs. Patients with severe symptoms potentially related to COVID-19 will also be seen in the emergency department.
Response to the spread of the worldwide virus has been ongoing at Fort Carson since early March 2020.
“We love skiing here in Colorado and as a result of four counties in the state being identified as high-risk areas, we had many Soldiers and Family members travel to those high-risk areas last weekend,” Edwards said. “They’ve been placed under quarantine as a precautionary measure. The big difference is we characterize quarantine as opposed to isolation. Quarantine is removing a person who is well but may have been exposed to the virus away from others. Some of those who may have been exposed and may be symptomatic as a result of COVID-19 have been placed in isolation and are continuing to be monitored.”
Soldiers returning from deployment will also be placed in a DOD directed 14-day quarantine.
Patients who visit the CSTC at the SFCC will notice two large tents near the SFCC entrance. One tent is designated for people with COVID-19 questions and concerns but no symptoms. The other tent is for patients who feel they are experiencing symptoms and could be triaged for screening with a provider.
Tests will be operated by an outside agency which typically produces results in four to five days.
“Everyone in the health care community is concerned about how this virus may grow and spread and potentially stress the health care system,” Evans said. “The actions that are being taken now are critical. We are doing everything we can to grow the capacity in our hospital to meet our patients’ needs as best we can.”
The hospital currently has an ample supply of tests that should be sufficient for testing the Fort Carson populace in the near term, but Evans reiterated the Fort Carson medical system is planning for the worst and hoping for the best.
“If we’re overreacting by setting up a center and putting people in masks and then no one gets admitted to this hospital, then that is a massive win,” he said. “Everyone is hoping that is the case, but we take this situation seriously, so we are going to overreact and over-prepare so that patients can get what they need.”
For updated information about facilities on Fort Carson, visit https://www.carson.army.mil/ or follow Facebook @USArmyFortCarson and @EvansArmyCommunityHospital.