Southwest suburban woman worried about infecting others after hospital denied COVID-19 test

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A southwest suburban woman who's been in the hospital is frustrated with current testing limitations for COVID-19.

Colleen Pettrone is fighting a pneumonia and managing chronic illnesses, including an auto-immune disorder called Hashimoto's disease as well as asthma. But the 58-year-old La Grange woman said she's unable to get a test for novel coronavirus.

Pettrone said she's worried she could be exposing the virus to others.

"I asked them straight up, 'Do you even have the test?' and he said, 'Um, well it has to meet the protocol,'" Pettrone said.

Pettrone was released from the hospital Friday, but she wants to make sure she doesn't have COVID-19.

"Arrived at the hospital Tuesday evening around 6:30. Had high fever and respiratory issues. Flu-like symptoms," she said.

She said doctors at AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center La Grange would not test her for the virus.

Pettrone said it's because she had not visited a country considered high risk for the virus, or been in known contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

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She's concerned about potentially passing the virus to others, including her son.

"They need the approval of the Illinois Department of Health and they haven't gotten back to them," her son, Riley, said. "We had the infectious disease doctor call them yesterday, last night. Haven't heard anything back. Now another infectious disease doctor comes in and said there is a shortage of tests."

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, a doctor can take a swab sample and then send it to one of IDPH's labs. However, because of a shortage of test kits, doctors are told to follow criteria from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pettrone believes she fit the criteria.

According to the CDC, "hospitalized patients who have signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19" can be tested. And even though she's under 65, she's an individual "with chronic medical conditions," according to the guidelines.

"We all want to contain this virus," Pettrone said.

AMITA Health said Pettrone does not fit the current testing criteria.

"Under the guidance and direction of the Illinois Department of Public Health, this patient did not meet the clinical criteria for COVID-19 testing," AMITA Health said. "Therefore, the hospital was not able to test this patient. We are strictly adhering to the guidelines established by our state department of public health."

Pettrone said after ABC7 inquired and after she was discharged, the hospital called her, saying she could be tested. But she would have to come back to the hospital and go into two-day isolation.

Pettrone said it's a tough decision because she would be taking that isolation room from others, who may need it more.

If you have symptoms, you should make an appointment with your doctor. If it's an emergency, seek immediate medical attention.

For more information about what to do if you believe you have symptoms, visit the CDC's website.
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