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Rapid COVID-19 Testing Underway For All Patient Admittance To PeaceHealth Hospitals

Christoffer Poulsen MD

Peacehealth Oregon has begun testing patients for COVID-19 who come in with an emergency that requires hospitalization. The medical system uses “point of care” tests to quickly identify carriers of the virus and stop potential spread. 

It might be a heart attack or a bowel obstruction that brings a patient to the ER. But before they are admitted to a PeaceHealth hospital, they’ll get a nasal swab test. Results come back in under an hour.

Dr. James McGovern is Vice President of Medical Affairs for PeaceHealth Oregon.

“The point of knowing, especially for asymptomatic carriers, whether they have COVID or not, is really for staff protection,” he said.

McGovern says the PeaceHealth system purchased the rapid tests from a private company and divvied them up to all 10 of its hospitals. And as is the case everywhere, they’re limited.

“We just don’t have enough to test the community.  So we’ve just been emphasizing ‘please don’t come to the emergency department for a COVID test.”

If a patient needing hospitalization tests positive, McGovern says there are special units where they will be isolated and treated.

Credit PeaceHealth Oregon
Dr. James McGovern stands outside the emergency department at PeaceHealth Medical Center RiverBend in Springfield.

He added that PeaceHealth Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield decommissioned 36 beds in anticipation of an influx of patients during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

However, the need for such a large COVID-19 Unit has thus far not been necessary in Lane County. Because there is no treatment, most people with suffering from the virus have been advised to "weather the storm" at home.

Credit Christoffer Poulsen MD
A rapid test sample fact sheet and the sterile foam tip applicator used for COVID-19 testing.

Rapid tests will be reserved for those patients in eminent need of surgery or other emergency treatment. Those to be admitted for pre-planned procedures, such as Cesarean Section (C-Section,) will be tested with PCR, a method to detect the presence of the virus, with a longer turn around time of a few days.   

Tiffany joined the KLCC News team in 2007. She studied journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has worked in a variety of media including television and daily print news. For KLCC, Tiffany reports on health care, social justice and local/regional news. She has won awards from Oregon Associated Press, PRNDI, and Education Writers Association.
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