CORONAVIRUS

Intermountain Healthcare Ramps Up Coronavirus Testing

Apr 1, 2020, 8:02 PM | Updated: Apr 5, 2020, 9:34 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Officials with Intermountain Healthcare said they are ramping up efforts to administer hundreds more coronavirus tests every day.

They’ve administered more than 10,000 tests since March 16. Officials said that number could grow significantly with a new ability to collect up to 1,500 samples and process more than 1,000 test results per day at their 20 locations from St. George to Burley, Idaho.

“Mainly what we’re looking for right now is people that have symptoms,” said Dr. Anthony Wallin, an internist for Intermountain.

Wallin said priority was being given to high-risk patients and healthcare workers.

“With finite specimen collection, protective equipment and laboratory testing resources, it is critical that we prioritize testing for our most vulnerable populations, such as hospitalized patients and healthcare workers and those who meet the published criteria to receive testing,” he said. “Having all community members ‘Stay Safe, and Stay Home’ is a community contribution we can all make as we work to flatten the curve of COVID-19 in our communities.”

Officials have encouraged the public to visit Intermountain’s online symptom tracker or call the Intermountain COVID-19 Hotline at 844-442-5224 before driving to a test site.

An updated list of testing sites, their locations and hours of operation is available by visiting intermountainhealthcare.org.

“We have testing options for people with a clinician’s order, and we also have options for those without an order,” said Rebekah Couper-Noles, vice president of operations for Intermountain Medical Group.

“By calling ahead, a medical professional can assess your symptoms over the phone and determine if you should be tested,” said Couper-Noles. “If you do qualify for testing, you will be directed to one of the locations for testing. Calling ahead is not required for testing, but is highly recommend to save you time, and help our team of caregivers prepare for your visit.”

Curbside and drive-thru testing services are available free of charge to all patients. Doctors said the nasal swabbing procedure is quick, but can be a little uncomfortable.

“This is not a comfortable experience, but it is necessary to get the right sample so we can send it to our lab to be process, here in Murray,” said Wallin.

Doctors said results take a few days. Wallin said the administration of more tests will also help identify the virus’ hotspots, so far detected in Summit County, where 15 percent of tests come back positive, followed by Wasatch and Salt Lake Counties.

“If we tried to test everyone without the proper screening, we wouldn’t be able to do this very long, and we wouldn’t be able to find these hotspot when we’re at the peak,” said Wallin.

University of Utah Health and MountainStar Healthcare have also begun offering coronavirus testing services. You can find more details on the University of Utah Health website, or on the state’s Coronavirus Task Force website.

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