Polis takes tour, explains how alternative care site will relieve pressure on hospitals Fort Collins Coloradoan
UCHealth is disputing a social media claim that the health system is now able to test everyone with COVID-19 symptoms.
A person claiming to be a physician posted on Reddit on Thursday that anyone with coronavirus symptoms — fever, cough, sore throat — could get a rapid test at UCHealth.
The post directed anyone with symptoms to make a virtual visit with their medical provider, request a specific test, get a note from the doctor, then drive through the Harmony testing center to be swabbed.
While testing capacity has increased, it doesn’t mean everyone will get tested.
“The number of tests available or patients who can be tested can change greatly day to day with various developments,” said Kelly Tracer, spokeswoman for UCHealth, which is running hundreds of tests every day.
One of the most important things that determines testing capability is reagent, liquid chemicals that are added to swabs/samples to enable the virus to grow and then be tested, she said.
UCHealth has the lab equipment and reagents needed for testing “but we must watch these supplies carefully to ensure we continue to have enough testing capabilities for all of our patients, first responders and health care workers,” Tracer said.
The health system has expanded its testing capacity and criteria and can now test any UCHealth inpatients and any symptomatic outpatients who have a test order written by a UCHealth provider.
The health system is still recommending that people who think they might have COVID-19 isolate at home for at least 14 days. If you need help from your doctor, call to set up a virtual visit.
Most people at home will not be tested because a positive test for the virus will not change the treatment plan, she said. The virus is highly contagious and there is no cure.
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Dr. Shelley Moore at Associates in Family Medicine said at the beginning of the pandemic there weren’t even enough tests for the sickest patients in the hospital. “Now we have a much greater capacity to test even patients with mild symptoms who are not in the hospital” thanks in part to increased testing supplies and lab capacity to test.
She recommends patients experiencing symptoms call their doctor, who would confirm if they qualified for testing and order the test if indicated.
“If they feel you’ll be OK without a test, they may not test you,” said AFM spokeswoman Kelsey Withrow.
The health system has been expanding its testing to health care workers, first responders, hospitalized patients, immunocompromised patients and symptomatic ambulatory patients.
All patients seeking to be tested need an order from a UCHealth provider before a test will be conducted.
Outpatient testing is performed at designated sites, but they are not screening sites for the public at large, she said.
Testing has been in short supply since the beginning of the pandemic. At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, county health and hospital officials said corinavirus tests remained in limited supply statewide because the federal government had provided few tests, labs could only process so many per day and red tape has slowed the opening of new commercial testing labs.
Both UCHealth and Banner have set up coronavirus testing labs. That has helped reduce the time it takes to get test results from several days to between one and two days, Tracer said. A testing lab at Colorado State University is in the works.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ innovative response team members recently said their goal is to test more than 5,000 people a day throughout Colorado.
Larimer County health director Tom Gonzales said he wants between 2,000 and 3,000 people a day tested, working toward a goal of having half the county, or about 175,000 people, tested.
Hospitalized patients and health care workers with symptoms will continue to be first priority for testing, Gonzales said.
An increase in testing capacity would allow Larimer County to more thoroughly test the next two tiers.
Tier two includes symptomatic patients in long-term care facilities and residential settings such as homeless shelters or correctional facilities; symptomatic people over age 65; symptomatic people with underlying conditions; symptomatic first-responders; symptomatic critical infrastructure workers; and symptomatic people who work with vulnerable populations or in group residential settings.
Tier three includes everyone else who has coronavirus symptoms.
Coloradoan reporter Jacy Marmaduke contributed to this report.
Pat Ferrier is a senior reporter covering business, health care and growth issues in Northern Colorado. Contact her at email@example.com. Please support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a subscription today.
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