Editor’s note: Due to the increase in Covid cases reported last week (particularly in Quincy) and some of the challenges experienced in testing, Plumas News reached out to the school district, public health and Plumas District Hospital for more information. The hospital district responded with this important information and we are sharing it with out readers.
In benchmarking overall COVID testing access to local and regional facilities we have seen that most places take days, and commonly up to one week, to get an appointment and additional days to get your result. This is found to be true in Reno, Sacramento, and other places in the northern part of California. Our organization strives to meet a goal of less than 24 hours to get an appointment.
Regarding running our COVID testing clinic on the weekends, we are unfortunately, unable to accommodate this currently. We are down 4 nursing staff in the clinics and are struggling to maintain supporting our 2300+ office visits per month, in addition to the COVID-19 testing. From a lab standpoint, we are currently running at capacity. Our lab has been running large batches of COVID tests 6 days per week throughout most of the pandemic. Monday-Friday, we run two high-volume batches and one on Saturday. This week we have frequently processed three large batches of specimens totaling as much as 175 specimens per day. The staff needed to support this effort are working from before 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and, due to the complex nature of the test, very few are qualified to run them. PDH does offer 24/7 COVID testing in small volumes through our ER for symptomatic patients on another PCR platform and we have processes in place with public health to refer symptomatic or identified high risk contacts.
During a pandemic there is a process of triage which we should be utilizing to prioritize care, testing, access etc. based on need and not that is not the same model as our normal business. We have tried very hard to support the community as a whole and, in working with the schools, have on a daily basis evaluated the ability to results tests based on our staffing and testing capacity, all while placing community need above that of surveillance testing for the schools. The school testing is not affecting our outpatient swabbing schedule, those are all community testing appointments. Beginning Sept.27, we have performed 1058 tests which is close to 25 of Quincy/East Quincy’s population, in just 10 days.
In a discussion with PUSD this week we asked that a process be put in place to notify us of contacts referred due to exposure as these would be prioritized above general community swabs. We recommended that they discuss this with the health department to determine who this notification would come from (PUSD or PCPH) and this would help with scheduling. We are still awaiting final word from their discussions.
I do know that PUSD has been working very hard to get all this in place and to get their Binax, point of care testing, up and running and we have provided training this week for the additional district nurses to learn how to swab. Editor’s note: That testing begins this week.
Regarding our current outbreak, we have reached out to public health to address concerns over supporting the community needs. In my discussions with Dr. Satterfield over the last week I did not receive any concern over our processes or lack of support for community testing.
PDH will continue to support the County, schools, adjacent hospitals, and the community to the best of our ability to combat COVID-19.