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On-Demand Screening

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The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced the need for telehealth initiatives in order to screen and triage patients who have symptoms that may be consistent with COVID-19 infection. By screening the patients using a telehealth hotline, we can decrease the number of possibly infectious patients who present to the emergency room and outpatient clinics. This will result in a more efficient use of health care resources, while minimizing possible infectious exposure to healthcare workers and patients.

A standardized algorithm has been developed in order to identify patients who need a COVID test or who need to present to the emergency room from patients who can continue to social distance at home. In order to keep this telehealth hotline operational, this taskforce of students can help staff the hotline and walk patients through the algorithm in order to identify the at-risk patients.

Participating in this activity is beneficial to students as is allows them to learn how to speak to patients, virtually, which is a valuable skill as telehealth will likely become a common way to practice medicine in the future. Additionally, it will allow students to further utilize their development as clinicians and independent practitioners as they help triage patients based on their symptoms and COVID-19 exposure.


By operating this hotline, students will help free up health care resources as fewer Penn State Health staff members will be needed to operate the telehealth hotline and increase the efficiency of the emergency room, while reducing the risk of COVID-19 to patients.

Execution Plan

  • Fourth-year students will be trained on the telehealth protocol and how to operate the hotline by Kelly Rotondo. After the first group of students, all subsequent groups will be trained by the previous group of students.
  • Students will speak with patients, assess patients using the COVID screening questions, and triage patients to either obtain a COVID test, present to the ER, or continue social distancing at home.
  • Students will be able to contact Kathaleen King-Dailey, who will be available via the phone, during their shift should be have any questions or concerns about a patient.
  • Students will order the appropriate screening test and send it to be cosigned.
  • Modifications to the existing screening protocol will be altered as necessary and as the telehealth options change to include new services, such as a telehealth translator.

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