EVANSTON, IL — City staff hosted a senior NorthShore University HealthSystem executive to field questions about the new coronavirus and the city's response. It was the third question and answer session broadcast by the city since Mayor Steve Hagerty declared a state of emergency on March 14.
Hagerty appeared at the previous two sessions alongside Health and Human Services Director Ike Ogbo, who hosted the third session Wednesday with Dr. Lakshmi Halasyamani, NorthShore's chief quality and transformation officer.
Halasyamani said NorthShore has been able to conduct in-house coronavirus testing, providing results within about 24 hours for hospitalized patients and 48 hours for outpatient tests. Supplies of testing materials remain limited and in high demand, she said, so physicians must decide if an individual patient should be tested.
"We are guiding people to that testing through our algorithms that help us identify people who are at higher risk for a potentially more serious COVID-19 infection. We are not testing everybody. We are testing individuals who we believe could have a worse outcome," Halasyamani said.
NorthShore has been able to conduct between 300 and 600 tests a day, she said, including nearly 200 at a drive-thru testing site at its Old Orchard immediate care facility, 9977 Woods Drive.
"Individuals cannot just drive through," she said. "You can't say, 'Hey, I'd like a burger, fries and my COVID test.' Every individual has to be pre-screened through our e-visit process. And that e-visit process will determine whether you are appropriate for a drive-thru test."
As of Thursday, the Evanston Health and Human Services Department reported there were 55 Evanston residents with confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. No numbers were available regarding the number of patients hospitalized, Ogbo said.
Ogbo said the city had been working for weeks on a plan to quarantine coronavirus patients unable to do so themselves and planned to announce more details publicly. People with COVID-19 who do not need to be hospitalized were urged to remain in a separate room and use a separate bathroom from the rest of their household.
"This city is currently working on a housing plan that will be rolled out very soon, and this will only pertain to individuals who cannot effectively isolate themselves at home or quarantine themselves at home," Ogbo said. "We're hoping for those who cannot effectively isolate themselves to be the people who will be at the hotel or whatever facility the city provides."
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Watch complete March 25 question and answer session with Evanston Heath and Human Services Director and NorthShore University HealthSystem Chief Quality and Transformation Officer Dr. Lakshmi Halasyamani »