Hospital COVID testing site moves, will resume asymptomatic testing
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The coronavirus specimen collection center at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs has moved to a new location and will reopen testing to asymptomatic people in coming days.
As of Wednesday, Dec. 9, the testing center will be located at 940 Central Park Drive, which is the parking lot on the west end of the hospital campus. It was previously located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 40 and Walton Creek Road.
“The change in location will allow for quicker transport of the specimens, as well as more efficiency with operations and staffing,” said Alicia Yost, lead nurse at the collection center.
Asymptomatic testing was suspended for about 30 days, as there was a need for prioritization, and labs were experiencing a slowdown in turnaround time for results.
Currently, about half of results are returned in 24 hours, Yost said, and nearly all of them within 48 hours.
Going forward, Yost emphasized the hospital will continue to watch supplies and turnaround time, and restrictions on testing may again be implemented if there is a shortage or backlog.
Yost reminds people who want a COVID-19 test that all tests require an order. Orders can be obtained from a primary care provider, through the My Health Connection app or by calling 970-875-2686.
Testing takes place Monday through Friday, and people will be offered a choice of times during the scheduling process. On Dec. 19, the collection site will begin being open on Saturdays.
Yost also reminds people it is a little uncomfortable with the nasal swab, but it only takes about 30 seconds.
“Most patients are super thankful and grateful for us, and we, too, are thankful to people for getting tested,” Yost said about the site’s experience of administering COVID-19 tests during the past 10 months.
The hospital does not offer the rapid antigen test at this time because it is less reliable, according to Yost, and the PCR is the “gold standard.”
Yost said her team is currently collecting specimens from about 50 people each testing day. That’s a number the testing site is comfortable with in terms of capacity, she said, though it can be adjusted somewhat depending on demand. Yost urges people who made an appointment but are not going to show up to call the hospital, so those slots can be given to other people.
The demand is high now, she said, and only expected to grow.
Some of that is due to the increase in patients scheduling procedures who must first get a COVID-19 test — an increase that typically happens at the end of the year before insurance deductibles turn over.
And as people travel for the holidays or visit vulnerable family members, there will likely be more asymptomatic people who want to get tested, Yost noted.
“We anticipate an increase in demand, and we are ready for it,” she said.
Yost encourages people who want to get tested to get tested, whether they only have mild symptoms and are unsure or are asymptomatic and visiting someone vulnerable.
“It’s the easiest way to keep everyone healthy,” she said.
Yost also advises quarantining before and after travel.
As things are always subject to change in the world of COVID-19 testing, updated information can be found at uchealth.org/covid19-testing.
To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.
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