San Diego COVID-19 nurse line peaking at 60 calls every 15 minutes

Posted at 4:51 PM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 20:30:06-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Scripps Health in San Diego is inundated with calls from people who are worried that they might have the coronavirus.

“Understandably, people are now getting upper respiratory infections and right away they're thinking is this COVID-19 so they're calling the line and we're giving them the help that they need,” says Dr. David Wetherhold.

The hospital network's dedicated COVID-19 nurse line is reportedly peaking at 60 calls every 15 minutes, connecting patients to nurses for screenings. If a nurse believes that a phone call warrants a video call and the video call warrants actual testing, the nurse will assign the patient a time to park outside one of the cabanas now staged outside three of the Scripps Health clinics. The patient will then call in.

“A single licensed provider will come out to your car [and] do an evaluation. They'll check your blood pressure. They'll check your temperature. They'll check your pulse and your oxygenation level and then they will obtain the COVID-19 sample which is a swab into the nose,” adds Wetherhold.

Wetherhold says COVID-19 test results come back in two to four days. Positive patients will only need to return for treatment if their symptoms are unmanageable. He's also working vigorously on Scripps Health’s larger telehealth program. It was supposed to roll out over the next 18 months, but with COVID-19, it's been compressed into a few weeks.

Wetherhold tells 10News that patients who are considered "at risk" are in desperate need of virtual care so that they can avoid any potential exposure to COVID-19.

“The immunocompromised, transplant patients, heart failure patients or cancer patients. [They’re] going to be our initial focus [with] trying to get them the care they need remotely without bringing them out into the community," Wetherhold said.

Scripps Health’s nurse line is 888-261-8431 and is staffed from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.

The cabanas are located outside Scripps Clinic Torrey Pines, Scripps Clinic Rancho Bernardo and Scripps Coastal Medical Center Vista and are only available to patients directed there through the nurse line.