Area hospitals expand COVID testing sites
FINGER LAKES--With expanded testing for COVID-19 as a prerequisite for health officials on both the state and federal levels to ease the current restrictions most Americans currently face, many local hospitals and health organizations are still facing testing supply issues. While the Cayuga Health System, which owns Schuyler Hospital, has been ramping up testing in some locations, other health care providers in the area have reported that there currently are not enough supplies to fully implement testing.
"We have been ramping things up, we recognized very early on the need for mass sampling," said John Turner, vice-president for public relations for the Cayuga Health System.
A mass sampling system has been established at the Ithaca Mall and a mobile testing team that has already proactively tested everyone at Seneca View Assisted Living Facility in Montour Falls.
Turner said he has not heard of any positive tests associated with Seneca View. "We have already had inquiries from other senior facilities (throughout the Finger Lakes) as well, and we are working with them because they are the more vulnerable population," Turner said.
The mass sampling center at the Ithaca Mall is available to anyone, with people coming from as far as Buffalo for testing. Turner added that while Schuyler Hospital has the capacity for testing, it pales in comparison to the sampling center in Ithaca.
"If you listen to the governor, the ability to test in large scale will determine the ability to reopen the state," Turner added. "We do envision the mass sampling center will grow and that our mobile testing team will respond to more nursing homes, it will all broaden out."
According to George Derantany, vice-president of laboratory services for Guthrie Medical Group, Guthrie is constantly working with medical suppliers to ensure enough testing mediums are in place to test symptomatic patients.
"Several Guthrie locations are performing swab collections for COVID-19 molecular testing through an office visit or drive-up collection site... Guthrie also utilizes its partner lab to perform additional testing as needed," said Derantany, adding, "We'd like to assure the community that we have enough test kits to meet the demand."
At Arnot Health, additional testing is also a priority.
"We have an ample supply for what we are doing now (in terms of testing supplies) but we would love to have more and do more; then we could have a truer sense of the magnitude of this locally," said Ken Roberts, system director of marketing communications for Arnot Health.
Lara Turbide, vice president of community services for Finger Lakes Health, which owns Soldiers and Sailors Hospital in Penn Yan said they have run into limitations as it relates to testing supplies.
"Currently there are not testing supplies available for widespread community epidemiological surveillance testing," said Turbide.
At issue isn't a lack of testing equipment, but the lack of the mediums used to take the tests and transport them.
"We have the equipment at Arnot Ogden and Ira Davenport to run the test," Roberts said. "It's the materials needed to run them and the collection of materials is the short link." Things like nasal swabs and tubes for transport are currently not at supply levels required to amp testing levels up.
Roberts did add that when Arnot begins performing elective surgeries in the coming weeks every patient will be screened for COVID-19.
For patients interested in getting tested in Schuyler County, Turner said they need to call their providers to get a doctor's order for it. Arnot has established a helpline that can be reached at 1-800-952-2662.
Information for Guthrie Medical Group is available at 1-888-448-8474.