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Hospitals to expand testing sites, hours to keep up with demand

By Brittany Tait, KSL TV | Posted - Jul. 2, 2020 at 9:07 a.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — The lines have doubled in size, and people are waiting longer periods of time at testing sites.

Intermountain Healthcare officials said they are seeing a 50% increase in those wanting to be tested for coronavirus.

“Weeks ago, we were doing 2,000 COVID swabs a day,” said Dr. Anthony Wallin, Intermountain Healthcare urgent care medical director. "Now it’s 4,000.”

With cases of COVID-19 rising, University of Utah Health representatives also noted a rush to be tested.

“We have five testing sites,” said Nikki Gilmore, U of U Health senior nursing ambulatory director.

Among those five locations, Gilmore noted testing has jumped from 700 swabs a day to 1,600.

“We are looking to extend our hours,” Gilmore said. “These health care professionals take their jobs seriously. It’s summer and often hot. They are working diligently outside, dressed in PPE. Some people coming through the lines haven’t been kind. We understand there is a level of anxiety out there.”

Witnesses report seeing numerous angry people screaming at medical staff at the Redwood Road COVID-19 testing tent.

“We waited in line for over an hour, and we were still not close to the front of the line,” resident Jessica Louder said. “We ended up driving away. And I worry there are others, like us, who won’t get tested because the line is moving so slowly.”

Intermountain Healthcare officials noted the restart of surgical procedures and opening of clinics have pulled redeployed workers back to their regular positions – leaving the obstacle of staffing COVID-19 Tents.

“It’s a perfect storm,” Wallin said. “The surgical cycle is back in full swing. On top of that you have more testing for pre-op, and then a higher demand because of prevalence in the community.”

Weeks ago, we were doing 2,000 COVID swabs a day. Now it’s 4,000.

–Dr. Anthony Wallin, Intermountain Healthcare

U of U Health officials noted off-peak hours seem to be from 7:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. for those looking to avoid longer lines.

“We’re also looking to add two extra lanes to all five testing sites,” Gilmore said. “If those in the community want to help slow the spread, a holiday weekend is coming up. Please wear your masks.”

Intermountain Healthcare directors said a longer wait does not mean a lesser quality test.

“We are still providing high quality testing,” Wallin said. “With increase in demand, that may require a longer wait. But it’s worth it. You know you are getting a good test, a good sample, and that our lab will run the test correctly.”

Officials said a typical wait time shouldn’t exceed two hours.


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