M Health Fairview starts drive-thru COVID-19 testing at clinics | KSTP.com

M Health Fairview starts drive-thru COVID-19 testing at clinics

Callan Gray
Updated: March 10, 2020 10:26 PM
Created: March 10, 2020 09:48 PM

A new approach to testing for COVID-19 is getting underway at M Health Fairview clinics. Providers are now taking swabs from patients curbside.

“We want to make sure we keep our patient and community safe,” Dr. Stephen Robinson said. “We want to minimize exposure to other patients that may be in our clinics or our emergency departments. We also want to make sure we take precautions to minimize risk to our provider staff.”

Robinson said patients, who call ahead, can drive up to four clinic locations to be tested from their cars. M Health Fairview wouldn't release the specific locations but urges patients to call for a referral.

“Our fear is that a lot of people will present for testing that don't necessarily need testing,” he said. “It’s important that we have a timely response and appropriate response to those who do need testing.”

He said patients who meet the criteria will be tested for influenza first.

“We’re still seeing a fair amount of influenza,” Dr. Robinson said. “If we find a patient tests positive for influenza, we do not test them for coronavirus.”

If the flu test comes back negative, the patient's COVID-19 test is sent out.

3rd COVID-19 case confirmed in Minnesota, patient in critical condition

“Even within our own public health system, our MDH laboratory has gotten a huge uptick in the number of specimens they are receiving and testing each day,” said Kris Ehresmann, the MDH infectious disease director.

In an update Tuesday afternoon, state health officials said they are investigating a third case in Minnesota. 

The patient is in their 30s and from Anoka County. According to MDH, the individual started showing symptoms on Feb. 28 and went to the doctor on March 3.

“The person was evaluated and sent home based on the current health status at that time,” Ehresmann said.

The patient returned to the doctor on Monday, was hospitalized and tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday morning. The individual is now in critical condition.

MDH said the patient was likely exposed to the disease through contact with international travelers, outside of Minnesota. They are now investigating who those people were and how many people the patient came in contact with.

“The individual and family took great care to isolate and that makes all the difference in the world for our work and the community,” Ehresmann said.

She told reporters they are investigating why the individual wasn’t tested when they went to the doctor on March 3. Ehresmann said one factor could be that testing protocols have changed significantly over the last week. The CDC sent out new guidelines last Thursday. 

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