Spencer Clinic Urges ‘Call First' – Drive-up Testing Will Be Available for Some Conditions

posted on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 in COVID-19

Avera Medical Group Spencer (AMGS) has implemented drive-up testing for patients who have been referred by an AMGS provider to specifically come to the clinic to be tested for influenza, RSV or strep throat.

“In addition to encouraging the public to practice social distancing, we’re practicing medical distancing as well,” explained Dr. Nathaniel Meyer, family practitioner at AMGS. “At this time, walk-ins are not permitted for any health concern, which means every patient needs to call first for an appointment prior to being seen. During that phone call, it will be determined if the patient meets our criteria for using the drive-up testing for the respiratory illnesses of strep, influenza or RSV. We will only test and run lab tests on patients who have a physician’s or provider’s order.”

Dr. Amanda Young, AMGS family practitioner and president of the Spencer Medical staff, emphasized that patients must call the clinic first for instruction. “If a patient meets the criterion for strep, influenza or RSV testing, a physician or healthcare provider will initiate an order for the test and provide instructions for curb-side testing. We will not test patients curb-side or in the clinic without an order.”

Dr. Young added: “We are here to care for the community. If you feel you need to be seen rather than have a drive-up test, we have a process in place for that as well. Our goal is to practice medical distancing as much as possible, while continuing to meet our patient’s needs and reduce the spread of illness.”

If these more common illnesses are ruled out, healthcare providers can further assess patients and determine if they meet the current state guidelines for COVID-19 testing.

While AMGS and Spencer Hospital both have a limited supply of test kits available, that only enables a specimen swab to be collected locally. Testing for COVID-19 is conducted at the State Hygienic Laboratory at the University of Iowa (SHL).

Due to a global shortage of supplies, the state hygienic lab, currently will only perform tests on patients with confirmation of one or more of the criteria below:

  • Hospitalized patient with fever and respiratory failure and no alternate diagnosis

  • Hospitalized older adult (> 60 years of age) with fever or respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, difficulty breathing) and chronic medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, immunosuppressive medications, chronic lung disease, or chronic kidney disease)

  • Any person (including healthcare providers) with household contact with a laboratory confirmed case of COVID-19 in the 14 days prior to becoming ill with a fever or respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, difficulty breathing)

  • Any person with a history of international travel to a country with a Level 3 CDC travel health warning (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html) or has taken an international cruise in the 14 days prior to becoming ill with fever and respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, difficulty breathing) and no alternate diagnosis

“In addition to implementing drive-up testing for certain illnesses, we are making other temporary changes to help protect our patients’ health and well-being,” commented Dr. Young. “This includes working with elderly patients or those patients who have underlying medical conditions to reschedule routine appointments to a later date.”

Curb-side testing for patients with a physician order is currently in effect and available during clinic hours, 8 AM – 6:30 PM Monday through Thursday and until 5 PM on Fridays.

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