coronavirus screening at medical center
Patients in the acute respiratory clinic will receive care including temperature checks and any needed blood work and laboratory testing. Photo copyright Getty Images.
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Field clinic for respiratory illness opens to public, provider referrals

Published on Wednesday, April 15, 2020

By: Marc Rolph, mrolph@umc.edu

A new field clinic set up by the University of Mississippi Medical Center for people with acute respiratory issues is now caring for patients seeking care or referred by local primary care providers, including pediatricians.  

The acute respiratory clinic on the lower level of parking Garage B opened April 8, initially to patients referred by a UMMC provider. It’s solely for those with acute respiratory issues who need to be seen by a provider, but who aren’t ill enough for a trip to the emergency room. The goal is to ensure those patients quickly get the level of care they need. 

The clinic, near the corner of State Street and Woodrow Wilson Avenue in parking Garage B, is by appointment only and is not for walk-up care. Those being seen are adults and children who have non-severe symptoms of a respiratory illness, like influenza or strep throat.

The facility also serves patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 who have symptoms that require minor care. 

Portrait of Dr. Javed Butler

“The acute respiratory clinic was deployed to fill several gaps in the care of these patients in the community,” said Dr. Javed Butler, Patrick Lehan Chair of Cardiovascular Research and chair of UMMC’s Department of Medicine. “Many community primary care clinics are either temporarily closed or curtailed, and some patients may not have a ready option for new-onset, acute symptoms.”

To schedule an adult visit:

  • Current UMMC patients must be referred to the clinic by their primary or specialty care provider. Patients should be screened for symptoms by their PCP or the UMMC Center for Telehealth to determine if care at the clinic is warranted. If the patient is determined to need minor respiratory care, the provider will call (601) 496-5300 to speak with a scheduler and make an appointment.
  • Non-UMMC patients who believe they need to be seen must first call (601) 496-5300 to set up a telehealth visit with a UMMC provider. Based on that visit, the provider will determine if the patient needs scheduling for an appointment.
  • Non-UMMC providers may also refer their adult patients to the clinic by calling (601) 496-5300 to schedule a visit.

All pediatric patients must be referred to the clinic through a provider or pediatrician:

  • Children’s of Mississippi providers should call the Pediatric Access Center at (601) 815-5300 to refer patients for scheduling.
  • Local pediatricians and primary care providers can refer children by calling 1-(855) 984-KIDS. Schedulers will make an appointment and contact the patient’s family.
Portrait of Margaret Head

The clinic “is designed to see patients that need to have a face-to-face visit with a provider,” said Margaret Head, chief ambulatory officer for UMMC’s adult hospitals. “In other words, the patient needs more than self-care at home, but does not need care provided by the Emergency Department.”

The clinic is critical to keeping safe the patients seen in the adult and pediatric Emergency Departments who have injuries or illness unrelated to the virus. As a field hospital, the clinic is providing UMMC with the infrastructure it needs to expand clinical services to unconventional areas, while still providing the highest level of care to patients.

Portrait of Mary Taylor

“We are able to screen patients for other conditions, like influenza or strep, as well as COVID-19, treat them, and send them home with appropriate treatment or reassurance,” said Dr. Mary Taylor, Suzan B. Thames Chair, professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics. 

“Many children present to clinics each day with fever,” Taylor said. “While this is often a sign of another illness in children, during this pandemic we must ensure the safety of our patients, families and staff by isolating patients with these symptoms appropriately and assessing for COVID-19 infection.”

About 24 adult and pediatric patients can be examined at a time. They are placed in mobile hospital beds used in disasters, separated by dividers for privacy.

The clinic, open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, is staffed by internal medicine and pediatric physicians, nurse practitioners, and both adult and pediatric nurses.

What they’re doing: 

  • Rapid testing for flu and strep
  • Specimen collection for COVID-19 testing
  • X-ray and laboratory blood work
  • Checking oxygen levels and administering nasal oxygen if needed
  • Antibiotic and steroid treatment
  • Medical evaluation and treatment planning 

The clinic is not a replacement for screening for the virus by a provider, or for drive-through testing at sites across the state, including the Mississippi State Fairgrounds in Jackson. It also is not an alternative for patients who need emergency room care.

“This will be a great resource for our community providers who are likewise eager to treat symptomatic patients, but who need to protect other patients and staff from potential infection,” Taylor said.

For more information about COVID-19 in Mississippi and UMMC’s response, click here.