Indianapolis News and HeadlinesIndiana Coronavirus NewsCOVID-19 Healthcare


At-home COVID testing kit could lead to quick results

And ease the crowding at test sites
Posted at 5:39 PM, Nov 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-20 11:48:18-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Just a couple weeks ago, around 150-people a day would come through the Franciscan Health COVID-19 testing site. This week that number is closer to 400 each day.

“It’s been a significant increase and it’s testing our system to the limits it can reach. A large volume increase in symptomatic patients or school-age children who need to be cleared for schools,” said Vince Corbin, Nursing Director for Emergency Services.

The wait can vary, anywhere from an hour to sometimes more than two depending on when people arrive.

The increase in people receiving tests is starting to create a lag in how quickly test results can be returned. A few weeks ago patients would receive results in one to two days, now it's four to five days.

“Our lab's capacity has been exceeded by almost double so that creates real challenges with getting timely results. I’d say over the last two to three weeks, we’ve more than doubled our testing at our core lab,” said Christopher Doehring, M.D., Vice President of Medical Affairs at Franciscan Health.

Staffers are also getting switched out at testing sites due to the increase in patients coming to the emergency room.

“As the drive-through testing has increased so has the ER volume and we were using ER staff to staff the drive-thru for a long time. We’ve since had to pull them back in because of the influx in emergency room visits,” said Corbin.

Lab staff has taken over testing sites for ER staff. They are also training other staffers to assist with the influx of people. Screeners and patient access workers now learning the ins and outs of swabbing and testing.

Franciscan Health’s testing site does require a notice from a doctor. They’ve recently changed the hours to Monday through Friday 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The change is a way for them to get through more patients during daylight hours.

As for supplies, they are mostly stocked up and have not needed to turn patients away due to lack of supply. They are running short on rapid tests.

This week the FDA approved a new fully at home rapid test by Lucina.

Doehring says this is a step in the right direction that may help alleviate some of the pressure on testing sites.

"What we would expect is that fewer people will need to come to the hospital to get their test they can either do it at home or through their doctors office so that will be really helpful to us,” said Doehring.