Emergency rooms across the Cincinnati area and beyond are being overrun by people seeking COVID-19 tests to clear themselves for entertainment or activities or reduce their quarantine times.
Testing is encouraged – but not at emergency departments, which are overwhelmed now, hospital officials said Wednesday.
"We're getting an influx of individuals coming to the EDs for a COVID test even if they don't have COVID symptoms," said Christa Hyson, spokeswoman for the Health Collaborative, which helps represent the six hospital systems in the Cincinnati region.
"They're coming in for a lot of reasons," Hyson said. "To make sure they can play that sport, make sure they can go on that school trip, attend a concert, things like that."
Anyone who is suffering from breathing difficulty or severe symptoms is encouraged to come to the emergency rooms for testing or to seek immediate assistance from their primary care providers.
"Don't overwhelm our health care systems" if you do not have severe symptoms, Hyson said. "Let's save our emergency departments for emergencies."
Scroll to the end of this story to find a list of locations that aren't emergency rooms where you can get a COVID-19 test.
Hyson added, "We will never turn away people from care."
The Health Collaborative has become aware of the issue in the Cincinnati area, including Northern Kentucky, but also elsewhere in Ohio.
Mercy Health is mentioned specifically in a letter from Jeffery Weir, superintendent of the Clermont County Educational Center, sent on Aug. 31. Officials from Bon Secours Mercy Health referred questions about the situation to the Health Collaborative
"Leaders within the Mercy Hospital system notified CCPH today that its Emergency Rooms are being overwhelmed by students and parents showing up to be tested in an effort to reduce kids' quarantine periods," Weir wrote in the letter posted on the Clermont Northeastern Schools' website. "While testing for this purpose is appropriate, EMERGENCY ROOMS ARE NOT THE APPROPRIATE VENUE for students and parents to show up for testing."
Weir, whose center provides a range of services to districts in the county, added this:
"In summary, please advise your personnel to guide parents and students to locations available through the link above and to the businesses mentioned above for testing. STUDENTS AND PARENTS SHOULD AVOID EMERGENCY ROOMS UNLESS A TRUE MEDICAL EMERGENCY EXISTS."
Get tested here
Source: The Health Collaborative