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Palm Coast Friday, Aug. 7, 2020 7 months ago

New lab to improve turnaround times for tests, as Flagler passes 1,000 COVID-19 cases

Also, Emergency Department at AdventHealth encourages people not to 'shy away' from treatment for other ailments.
by: Brian McMillan Executive Editor

Flagler County has crossed over 1,000 cases of COVID-19, as of Aug. 7, with deaths at 13, Health Officer Bob Snyder, of the Florida Department of Health-Flagler reported. Those 13 were Flagler residents; a visitor from New York also died, making the total 14.

The positivity rate for the past 14 days is 6.2%, which is an improvement over the 7.1% of the previous two weeks. COVID-19 patients at AdventHealth Palm Coast are holding steady at 14, with emergency room visits trending downward since July 12.

Snyder also said that the science indicates that COVID-19 is not transmitted via surfaces as much as was originally feared, which is good news. Still, it’s best to continue to wear face masks and maintain 6 feet social distancing.


Delays in test results

Test results are returning to Flagler County at the rate of 120 to 320 per day in the past several days, but the turnaround time has once again slowed down to 14 days after the test was originally administered. According to DOH-Flagler Public Information Officer Gretchen Smith, speaking on WNZF’s “Free For All Friday” Aug. 7, the lab that the DOH had been using for processing COVID-19 test results, Quest, has been “inundated. So, this is a challenge.”

The DOH now uses New Jersey-based Medical Diagnostic Labs LLC, and test results have been returned in two to three days. To schedule a test locally, call 313-4200.

That’s a big improvement, considering Snyder said he knew of someone who had a test done July 21 and hadn’t received a results still, as of Aug. 6.


Emergency room advances

AdventHealth Emergency Department Director Paul Mucciolo, who is also a candidate for Flagler County School Board, encouraged residents to not let their guards down. But, he said, the ED has gotten better and better at recognizing COVID-19 based on chest X-rays, which allows them to segregate them as if they had a positive test.

Flagler Beach City Commissioner Ken Bryan and AdventHealth Emergency Department Director Paul Mucciolo recently posted a video together on Facebook to encourage mask wearing. Screen shot

The hospital is also using Vivify technology, which enables low-risk COVID-19 patients to quarantine at home while still maintaining close contact with physicians virtually.

“It gives people a great security blanket at home,” he said. He added that of all the patients sent home with Vivify, only a few have had to return to the hospital for more advanced treatment.

The long-term effects of COVID-19 are still unknown, Mucciolo said. “We don’t know some of the latent effects. … The rule is that every day on the ventilator sets you back for a week. … Your body’s not a light switch; you can’t just flip it back to feeling better.”

Wally D’Aquino, chief operating officer at the hospital, said he continues to work with other AdventHealth facilities to ensure capacity is appropriate.


‘Shying away’

Is AdventHealth’s Emergency Department seeing as many patients as normal?

“People are shying away, and it distresses me to no end,” Mucciolo said. “If you or your loved one have an emergency, come in to be seen.”

Some have stayed away with a laceration that could have been stitched up and treated, but instead people come in five days later, and it’s infected, he said.

Those with symptoms of a heart attack or a stroke or other emergency, Mucciolo said, "Please come in. We really need to give you the care you need to maximize your chances of a meaningful and positive recovery.”

“Don’t delay your care,” D’Aquino added.

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