The Westport woman felt fine on Monday.
She played tennis, as she does nearly every day. She took her 2 kids — both Staples High School students — to various activities.
But when she got home later that afternoon, she felt sick. Her temperature was 102.4. “I never get a fever that high,” she says.
She went to bed. And she worried.
Three days earlier, she played tennis with someone from Central America, who had a cold. Her kids’ friends are in and out of the house constantly. And she herself has asthma.
She called her primary care physician. The advice: Take Tylenol and Advil.
Two days later — Wednesday — she heard the news that COVID-19 is definitely in Westport. The schools were shutting down.
She called her doctor’s office again, and asked to be tested. She was told they have no testing kits — in fact, no physician around here does.
And because of her exposure to someone from another country, they said she could not come to the office. Instead, she should go to the Norwalk Hospital emergency room. They — along with Bridgeport, St. Vincent’s and Greenwich Hospitals — have “drive-by” testing, the doctor’s office said. She would not even have to get out of the car.
The office promised to call the hospital, alerting them she’d be there soon.
At Norwalk Hospital, the woman told the valet she’d been expected. He had no idea. He summoned a nurse.
The nurse told the Westporter there was no drive-by testing. She had to park, and go to the ER waiting room.
She did. A nurse took her pulse, and said, “You know, you won’t be getting the coronavirus test.”
The nurse at the emergency room desk confirmed the news. The only people they’re testing, she said, are those who are pale, have blue skin, and/or an oxygen level below 90.
But the nurse never asked the Westport woman if she’d been exposed to anyone from a foreign country. Or if she had pre-existing respiratory issues. Or anything else about her condition.
She did say that the woman’s primary care practitioner was “not informed” about Norwalk’s procedures. The nurse “heard” there was drive-through testing at Greenwich Hospital. But definitely not Norwalk. (An announcement yesterday confirmed that drive-through testing is available in Greenwich — at a primary care facility, not Greenwich Hospital — as well as Stamford and Stratford. Click here for details.)
The woman was taken to a private room, with a sealed door. She was left there for an hour.
Finally, she opened the door. “Is anyone coming in here?” she asked.
“Close the door!” someone yelled.
The only communication she had was by phone. Finally, a doctor entered. He wore a hazmat suit.
He told the woman, “you won’t be tested. There are only 600 kits in the entire state.”
The woman told a nurse, “Vice President Pence said anyone can get a test.”
“I know,” the nurse replied. “I don’t want hysteria, but people need to know: It’s not true. We’re not equipped for this.”
She did get tested for the flu, and strep throat.
As she was leaving, the woman saw 3 elderly patients on stretchers. They were being transferred to other hospitals.
While waiting for her discharge paperwork, the woman learned that a nurse had run out of containers, for a coronavirus test she had administered to someone. So the nurse taped the swab next to the bed, until the test dish arrived.
“They don’t want people just showing up at the hospital, unless you’re over 70,” the woman says. “They’re not ready for this.”
She is glad she went. She got an Albuterol inhalation prescription, for her asthma.
But, she says, “You don’t want to go to the hospital — especially if you have no underlying health issues. Just isolate yourself.”
Back home, she took off her clothes in the garage. She took over the master suite; her husband is using the guest room, and using a different bathroom. She’s not letting her kids hang out with anyone outside the family.
She also called her physician’s office, and told them they’d given her the wrong information. They were appreciative, the woman says.
Now, her fever has broken. She just feels tired, and has a sore throat.
“I’ll be fine,” she says. “But I want people to know what’s happening.”
“This is not good.”