Starting Tuesday, drive-up testing for coronavirus will be available for the first time in Dayton for people who have a doctor’s order to be tested, Premier Health announced on Monday.
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For the new local testing Premier Health is collaborating with the University of Dayton to set up a specimen collection site from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily at the UD Arena parking lot, 1801 Edwin C. Moses Blvd. in Dayton.
“To ensure an orderly process, it is vitally important that those who have symptoms that are consistent with the COVID-19 virus first contact their family physician or primary care provider and work with their provider’s office to see if they meet certain criteria before they come to the collection site,” said Ben Sutherly, Premier system director of communications. “If you do not have a physician’s order, you will not be screened.”
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A logistical team from UD will manage traffic and security will be on hand.
The specimens will be collected and forwarded by ComputNet, in collaboration with Premier Health and Fidelity Urgent Care, to a Quest Diagnostics laboratory for testing.
The tests are rapidly becoming more available as manufacturers ramp up production of the test for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. People can only be tested if a doctor has determined it is necessary, based on symptoms, contact with someone who has tested positive or because the person has traveled outside the country, said Melanie Amato, press secretary for the Ohio Department of Health.
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Health officials face challenges in both the number of test kits available, testing capacity and the availability of the swabs needed to do the test, said Sarah Hackenbracht, president and chief executive of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association.
“Because we have a limited supply we have to limit the testing to those who medically are necessary and need the testing, Hackenbracht said.
The tests occur in a hospital setting and she said the state has about 1,200 to 1,500 testing kits available to Ohio hospitals. It is not clear how many additional kits are available from private companies.
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Spokeswomen for the major testing companies, LabCorp of North Carolina and Quest Diagnostics of New Jersey, each said they expect to be able to perform more than 10,000 tests per day nationally by the end of the week and 20,000 per day by the end of March.
“LabCorp is working every second of every day to increase the number of tests that we can run,” said Pattie Kushner, chief communications officer for the company.
LabCorp made its test available on March 5 for physicians and other authorized health care providers in the U.S. and Quest produced its test on March 9, according to the companies.
Credit: Tony Dejak
Credit: Tony Dejak
Hospitals in the Cleveland area are already performing drive-up testing and this is the first time it has been available in the Dayton region. Healthcare workers in special protective gear take nasal swabs from the patient and then send it off to be tested in a lab, said Amato.
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She said people are asked to remain in self-isolation for 14 days while awaiting results, which can take 24 to 48 hours to be completed. Those who met criteria to be tested are asked to remain quarantined even if the results come back negative, she said, and the local health department will monitor them.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has ordered schools, restaurants and bars closed as the state grapples with the virus that originated in China and is sweeping the globe.
As of Monday, Ohio had 50 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 12 counties, including Butler County in the Miami Valley. Fourteen of those with confirmed cases are hospitalized, according to the Ohio Department of Health website. Another 333 people who had traveled but were not exhibiting symptoms were under health supervision.
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Hackenbracht said hospitals have seen increasing numbers of people walking into emergency rooms wanting tested. She and Elizabeth Long, spokeswoman for the Kettering Health Network, said that it is very important for people to not simply show up at the emergency room without warning. Long said people need to call in advance so that hospital personnel can meet them and take them into the hospital through a private entrance.
“We urge you don’t just come if you’ve got the symptoms — fever, dry cough, shortness of breath. Call ahead, because if you walk into a hospital or an urgent care, you run the risk of infecting other people,” Long said.
Both LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics said patients should not appear at their offices for specimen collection.
Those interviewed were not sure how payments for the tests were being handled by insurers and the government, but LabCorp established a uniform price which is “equal to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rate of $51.31,” Kushner said.
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