Hospital begins to test patients for COVID-19

Testing is administered via nose swabs to patients in their vehicles by medical professionals

GABRIEL BRAVO | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

JARED BRADLEY, Evergreen reporter

To combat the growing threat of COVID-19, Pullman Regional Hospital (PRH) opened a Triage and Testing Center for patients exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 on Monday.

According to a press release by Megan Guido, chief marketing & community relations officer, PRH’s new testing center will be running seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The COVID-19 Triage and Testing center is designed to screen patients experiencing respiratory problems as well as those who may be exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, according to the press release. 

Guido said a doctor’s note is not required to be tested. She said over 40 patients were already seen on Monday. 

“Patients stay in their vehicle while the screening is done. Based on their symptoms and risk factors, a COVID-19 test could be administered,” Guido said.

Pete Mikkelsen, director of PRH’s Emergency Department and member working with the Triage and Testing team, said Palouse Medical Clinic and PRH partnered to create the team. The team consists of medical professionals including nurses and doctors from both organizations.

The medical professionals administer the tests via nose swabs, he said.

Guido said the test results will be received a few days following the test. After the test, it is recommended that patients stay home until results are determined.

Guido said if the hospital receives a patient with COVID-19, standard infectious disease protocol will be followed, which includes patient isolation. CDC guidelines for COVID-19 will be followed in the event of a patient having the virus, Guido said.

Testing is not guaranteed and will only be done on patients who meet certain criteria at the hospital, Guido said. Only about 40 percent of patients today were tested on Monday. 

The Testing Center is stationed outside because it is safer for patients and staff. The isolated location also helps contain the virus. 

Mikkelsen said the current situation is difficult, but morale is good for the team. They have been lucky so far, although there have been two positive cases in Whitman County, Mikkelsen said.

“As of yet, no one has been admitted to the hospital,” Mikkelsen said. “We have such a strong group of nurses and doctors at the hospital. It really helps us to have all of that support.”

Community members are helping as well, he said. Donations of masks and blood have been received by the hospital.

“People are rallying,” Mikkelsen said.