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Lee Health officials expecting to begin antibody testing

By Staff | May 18, 2020

Antibody testing at Lee Health’s facilities was anticipated to begin last week.

On May 12, President Dr. Larry Antonucci said serology testing – the blood test that shows the presence of coronavirus antibodies in a patient’s blood stream – could be available before the week is out.

“While this testing is helpful to know how the virus has spread in our area, it is important to point out that the presence of antibodies does not necessarily mean the patient is immune from the coronavirus,” he said. “More research still needs to be done to know how the presence of antibodies impacts overall immunity. Tests will be performed in physician offices and in our blood draw stations at the Lee Health lab, and anyone who is curious if they’ve been exposed to the virus can request a test from their doctor.”

– Virtual visits no longer free as of May 18

“Over the last few months we have provided thousands of free Lee TeleHealth visits to support our community during a global pandemic,” Antonucci said. “We made this service free because it was the right thing to do, and it allowed patients to be virtually evaluated for symptoms of COVID-19 without having to come into a brick and mortar medical facility.”

On May 18, the service returned to the regular price of $49.

“Lee TeleHealth remains a convenient alternative to urgent care or a walk-in clinic for ailments such as rashes, fever, pink eye, cold-like symptoms and many other non-emergency medical conditions,” he said.

– Hurricane season nearing

Hurricane season, while stressful for all across the county, could play an even more damaging role this year when it comes to getting prepared during a pandemic.

Antonucci said residents should begin to prepare for the upcoming season and that a threat of a major storm creates even more of a challenge for Lee Health and the community.

“I know it sounds daunting to prep for hurricane season as we are still dealing with a pandemic, but the time to plan is now,” he said. “Every year we hope a Charley or Irma passes us by, but in the meantime, we must always plan for when the next big one hits.”

Antonucci reminded residents that hospitals are not shelters and to make sure to know where to go in case of a weather emergency.

He also said Lee Health is ready to treat patients in the event of a catastrophic storm.

“At Lee Health we are prepared to care for all of those who need it during a storm, and earlier this year the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration certified all of our hospitals as ‘Storm Ready.’ This certification means that Lee Health has met a rigorous set of standards that are designed to educate our community on how to stay safe in a severe weather event,” Antonucci said. “These standards include a 24-hour operations center, promotion of public readiness and creating a hazardous weather plan that trains weather spotters and holds emergency exercises.”