MUSC Health tri-weekly COVID-19 report (April 27)
CHARLESTON, S.C. (April 27, 2020) –At MUSC Health, the safety of patients, families, care team members, students, faculty and staff remains the number one priority. In an effort to provide accurate, relevant and timely COVID-19 information to news media in South Carolina and beyond, the MUSC Public Affairs and Media Relations (PAMR) department issues regular COVID-19 updates on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week. Please read the report in its entirety.
MUSC COVID-19 testing
A statewide collaboration among South Carolina’s research universities and largest health systems is setting the stage for widespread availability of coronavirus antibody testing, a key component of a strategy for safely reopening the state. There are five essential elements necessary to allow everyone to get to a “new normal”: 1) staged strategic economic revitalization with businesses allowed to move forward taking responsibility for assuring appropriate social distancing, workforce and customer protection aligned with 2) diagnostic testing for COVID-19, the disease caused by this new coronavirus and 3) antibody testing for SARS-CoV-2, the specific form of coronavirus that caused the pandemic to define prevalence; 4) contact tracing deployed to be able respond to new COVID-19 hotspots and mitigate the potential for outbreaks; and vigilant protection of vulnerable populations.
MUSC has been working alongside Clemson University and the University of South Carolina, as well as Prisma Health, for the past month to develop reliable antibody tests. Antibody testing, along with diagnostic testing, would together provide policymakers with valuable information about the present state of infections once commerce recommences so they can determine what, if any, real-time measures might be necessary. Read more.
In part due to this effort, MUSC Health is now offering voluntary COVID-19 serologic testing to care team members and first responders in local communities. The Charleston Division began to offering testing today, Monday, April 27, for both care team members and first responders. Testing for care team members in the Florence and Lancaster Divisions will also begin today; however, first responder testing in those areas will not start until Monday, May 4. This service is expected to expand for broader community access in the coming weeks.
The serology test is a blood test that looks for the presence of antibodies, which are specific proteins made in response to infections. Antibodies can be found in the blood and in other tissues of those who are tested after an infection. The antibodies detected by this test indicate that a person had an antibody response to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), whether symptoms developed from the infection or the infected person was asymptomatic. These antibodies may help provide protection from future infection as well as identify those still at risk. There are some limitations to serological testing at this time, specifically:
- In the early days of an infection when the body’s antibody response is still building, antibodies may not be detected. For this reason, serological tests should not be used as the sole basis to diagnose or exclude infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
- There is still a great deal we don’t yet fully understand about COVID-19 immunity. For example, we do not know whether or not someone who has developed antibodies is fully protected from reinfection, or how long any immunity lasts.
Care team members or first responders who wish to be tested can use MUSC Virtual Urgent Care (musc.care) to complete a COVID-19 (coronavirus) visit. Select “yes” on the additional information question and enter #covidimmunity in the comments section. Virtual Care will determine medical eligibility for serologic testing.
Candidates for the serology test, should schedule blood draw appointments through MUSC MyChart. Results will be available in MyChart within 48-72 hours. Testing is available at select locations in the Charleston, Florence, and Lancaster divisions and by appointment only. Repeat testing, for those that test negative, will be offered no more than every 30 days for qualified candidates.
The cost of the test will be billed to insurance carriers. Based on the recent CARES Act, insured patients will not likely have an outstanding balance for this test.
The Path Forward / Recovery
Four critically ill COVID-19 patients were successfully infused with convalescent plasma by MUSC Health physicians as part of an investigational treatment to improve their symptoms and help them to recover after contacting the deadly coronavirus. Three patients at MUSC Health University Medical Center in Charleston and one patient at MUSC Health Lancaster Medical Center are the latest patients to participate in this FDA-sponsored program, which involves MUSC physicians and investigators and support from blood centers to collect and distribute plasma from compatible donors who have fully recovered from COVID-19. Read more.
FOR THE COMMUNITY: For information regarding plasma donation or to schedule an appointment to make a donation, please contact: The Blood Connection (854-429-1700) or American Red Cross (843-764-2323) to learn more.
Patients who have been tested for COVID-19 and need test results to complete plasma donation appointment should log into mychart.musc.edu and access the “Health” tab and select “Test Results.” Patients who do not yet have a MyChart account, go to mychart.musc.edu and click the blue “Create Your Account” button to create one, which take up to 48 hours.
If individuals or patients do not want to access this information through MyChart, or have difficulty accessing COVID-19 lab results in MyChart, they may request individual results from the MUSC medical records department at 843-792-3881. If patients were tested for COVID-19 at a non-MUSC facility, please contact your physician or the records department at that facility.
MUSC recently launched the MUSC COVID-19 Epidemiology Intelligence Project. This digital resource is updated on Tuesdays and Fridays, as needed. This dashboard provides leading indicators related to the COVID-19 epidemic to enable informed decisions. An Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) chart from the website illustrates the level of the expected impact in South Carolina, and experts will continue to monitor the data and make adjustments to operations, as needed. MUSC’s goal is to deliver health care in a safe and reliable environment, while pushing forward to enable a rapid and successful revitalization of the economy.
A current situation assessment for MUSC Health – Charleston (Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties) is also available on this site. Data related to MUSC Health Florence division was published last week. Information related to the Lancaster division is expected this week.
As the community moves forward to revitalize the economy, the possibility exists that a second group of COVID-19 patients may emerge as a result of relaxed social distancing restrictions, which could reverse or undermine any economic progress. To avoid this and help the statewide community move forward successfully, MUSC is actively engaged with state leadership on these five actions:
Staged revitalization – Developing and deploying a strategic staged revitalization of the economy, prioritizing the highest impact economic drivers that represent the lowest risk of second-round COVID-19 infection. Recognizing the importance of this action on being able to care for all the patients and families that come to MUSC Health for help, a staged recovery within the health system is already in the planning and implementation mode.
Diagnostic testing – Continuing to develop our ability to test those who have symptoms of COVID-19. MUSC is the only health system in the state that has in-house PCR testing capabilities, which the health system is using to resume some urgent OR and other procedures.
Antibody testing – Developing and deploying tests for immunity to COVID-19 and certifying those who are recovered and immune to COVID-19. This work is ongoing, and MUSC Health will be sharing more details about these efforts soon.
Contact tracing – Having a confidential system in place to identify and trace contacts and isolating individuals at risk. MUSC is working with the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control and other partners across the state to move this forward in a more meaningful way for the days ahead.
Protecting vulnerable populations – Ensuring that the most vulnerable, including the elderly, minority communities and persons with chronic disease and weakened immune systems, remain socially distanced, protected and supported until the epidemic is well-controlled. Maintain actions that lower the risk for these populations.
MUSC COVID-19 info for repurpose with permission/credit or follow-up story ideas:
SCTR is fast-tracking COVID-19 trials and, in a time of social distancing, helping study teams run clinical trials remotely.
The Center for Telehealth has been front and center as MUSC Health has responded to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Three tiny boys arrive during pandemic in a first for new children’s hospital. That’s not the only unusual part of their story.
MUSC is working to develop a biorepository of COVID-19 samples that will be available to researchers.
IPads that were once used by doctors and nurses for rounding have been revamped so patients can virtually visit with family and friends.
Basic stats / COVID-19 positive cases
In response to ongoing news coverage trends and requests, the PAMR team is streamlining the most sought after data points and offering more context around these numbers. Our aim is to better explain what these numbers mean for the community. Previously reported data points, such as the number of telehealth screenings, total number of specimens collected at the West Ashley specimen collection site, or the number of COVID-19 positive MUSC care team members are still available upon request.
- Total number of COVID-19 community screening tests completed by MUSC Health-Charleston: 9,892 (MUSC Health system-wide: 12,484)
- Total Number of COVID-19 positive greater Charleston community screening tests: 493 (MUSC Health system-wide: 752)
- It is important to understand, and to avoid duplication in reporting, that these cases are reported to, and included in, the DHEC statewide COVID-19 numbers.
- The majority of these individuals may or may not require hospitalization in a South Carolina hospital at some point in time.
- Number of COVID-19 inpatients currently in the hospital (MUSC Health-Charleston): 8
- MUSC Health monitors this number to determine that we have current and future capacity in terms of health care providers, supplies, ventilators and PPE. Please see the IHME graph above. These numbers are consistent with the modeling and expectation that MUSC Health will have appropriate resources to manage these patients.
COVID-19 capacity (Charleston)
General status (green, yellow, red): GREEN
No change since April 10 report.
Supplies / Equipment (Charleston)
General status (green, yellow, red): GREEN
No change since April 13 report.
MUSC Health is encouraging the community to donate supplies at the MUSC Warehouse in North Charleston, located at 4295 Arco Lane Charleston, SC 29418. For a current list of supply requests, please visit this page.
For specific information about MUSC Health Florence or Marion Medical Centers, please contact Kim Geiger at email@example.com. For information about MUSC Health Chester or Lancaster Medical Centers, please contact Ashley Shannon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is the oldest medical school in the South, as well as the state’s only integrated, academic health sciences center with a unique charge to serve the state through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and nearly 800 residents in six colleges: Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. The state’s leader in obtaining biomedical research funds, in fiscal year 2019, MUSC set a new high, bringing in more than $284 million. For information on academic programs, visit musc.edu.
As the clinical health system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest quality patient care available, while training generations of competent, compassionate health care providers to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Comprising some 1,600 beds, more than 100 outreach sites, the MUSC College of Medicine, the physicians’ practice plan, and nearly 275 telehealth locations, MUSC Health owns and operates eight hospitals situated in Charleston, Chester, Florence, Lancaster and Marion counties. In 2019, for the fifth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit muschealth.org.
MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets of $3.2 billion. The more than 17,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers and scientists who deliver groundbreaking education, research, technology and patient care.