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Health Providers Launch COVID-19 Hotlines, Digital Screenings, Drive-Up Sample Collection

The Christie Clinic drive-thru for collecting samples from patients who may have the COVID-19 illness.

Hospitals and clinics across east-central Illinois are seeing an uptick in calls from people concerned about the coronavirus. In response, many are developing online tools to help answer questions and determine whether people need to seek medical care.

Carle Health System has created new coronavirus screening tools for people experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, such as fever, dry cough and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.

Jamie Mullin, spokesperson for Carle Health System, says Carle’s new online assessment tool can help people assess their risk.

“If you’re really just worried about whether… you might have this and you’re just not sure, this will help you walk through some steps and give you some next guidance,” Mullin says.

Patients can also call Carle’s COVID-19 hotline: dial (217)-902-6100 and press 1.

Carle is one of many central Illinois health care providers with a dedicated COVID-19 hotline and other digital tools.

OSF HealthCare, which has several locations in central Illinois, has a virtual assistant chatbot on its website and has created a free text messaging tool, which can help with screening and provide information about COVID-19.

The text messaging program links users to advice and updates from the CDC and Illinois Department of Public Health, and provides tips for prevention and information on how to connect with public health resources in their local area. 

To sign up, text OSF to 67634 and follow the prompts. OSF’s COVID-19 nurse hotline is (833)-OSF-KNOW (673-5669) and is staffed with nurses around the clock.

Christie Clinic’s COVID-19 patient hotline is (217) 366-4070. 

Christie also recently launched a drive-thru for collecting samples from patients who may have the illness. The drive-thru is reserved for patients who meet the following criteria:

  • Are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 (listed above)

AND, have either:

  • Traveled to a high-risk area
  • Have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus
  • Are at least 65 years old 
  • Are immune-suppressed (i.e. have respiratory issues, heart disease, etc.)

Patients who qualify for drive-thru sample collecting must call the patient hotline (217-366-4070), where they will be asked to fill out paperwork and schedule a time to visit the drive-thru. Once the sample has been collected, patients are encouraged to go home and self-isolate until results are made available.

Jamie Mullin with Carle says they’re working with C-U Public Health and the University of Illinois to develop on-site testing for COVID-19, which would allow for faster turnaround on results.

For now, all tests are performed by state or commercial labs for those who meet criteria set by the state.

Follow Christine on Twitter: @CTHerman

Follow Dana on Twitter: @DanaHCronin

Picture of Christine Herman

Christine Herman

Christine Herman is a Ph.D. chemist turned audio journalist who covers health for the Illinois Newsroom. Her reporting for Illinois Public Media/WILL has received awards from the Illinois Associated Press Broadcasters Association, the Public Media Journalists Association and has reached both regional and national audiences through WILL's health reporting partnership with Side Effects Public Media, NPR and Kaiser Health News. Christine started at WILL in 2015.

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