There has been a lot of discussion in the Black Hills about COVID-19 – who gets tested for it, what the test involves and what people should do if they suspect they have the virus.
COVID-19 is an infectious disease that can be serious for older and other high-risk individuals, including those with compromised immune systems. The COVID-19 virus is spreading quickly, reaching all 50 states. People are understandably fearful. Monument Health has compiled information about testing and treating patients to guide your response.
If you think you have COVID-19, call your provider – don’t come in.
To minimize exposure to the virus, Monument Health urges potential COVID-19 patients to stay home rather than risk infecting others in a clinic or other public setting. You can also call the Monument Health Nurse Triage Line at 800-279-1466 where a caregiver will ask questions about your symptoms, recent travel and possible contact with confirmed cases. If you fit the criteria, arrangements will be made for a nasal swab to be collected.
You can get tested in your car.
Monument Health now has drive-up testing in:
- Rapid City Urgent Care on Jackson Boulevard
- Spearfish at the North 10th Street Clinic
- Custer Hospital & Clinic
- Lead-Deadwood Hospital & Clinic
- Sturgis Hospital & Clinic
For any patient who wants to get scheduled, they must first call the Nurse Triage Line at 800-279-1466 to set up an appointment. During the appointment, a caregiver in protective gear will collect a test sample.
COVID-19 test samples are sent to a reference laboratory.
Many Black Hills medical providers, including Monument Health, are collecting COVID-19 tests. The tests are then sent to a reference laboratory for testing. Recently, the turnaround time for receiving results was up to five days.
When the test is completed, results are sent to the provider who ordered the test. The provider will contact the patient to discuss the results. In addition, Monument Health patients can also see their test results on MyChart, the electronic health record system.
Monument Health is exploring plans to offer COVID-19 testing locally.
Monument Health’s laboratory is not able to process COVID-19 tests, but executives are exploring a number of options. Testing could begin here by late April, which would dramatically reduce wait times.
Whether you’re tested or not, your treatment won’t change.
The South Dakota Department of Health has very specific criteria for which test samples are processed. Even if you don’t meet the criteria, Monument Health will treat your symptoms regardless of whether COIVID-19, influenza or another viral infection is the cause. For more than 80 percent of COVID-19 cases, the best treatment is bed rest at home. Hospitalization is a possibility for those with severe symptoms.
If you have symptoms but are otherwise healthy, go home — and stay home.
Avoid close contact with family members. Cover your coughs and sneezes, wash your hands often and make sure everyone in the family does the same.
This is good advice whether you have COVID-19, influenza or any other infectious respiratory disease. You need to do your part to stop the spread of all viral infections, as these diseases can be serious for older people and those with other health problems.