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, especially for older and high-risk individuals, including those with compromised immune systems. The COVID-19 virus is spreading quickly across the United 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 605-755-1350 or 800-279-1466 where a caregiver will ask questions about your symptoms and other health matters. If you fit the criteria, arrangements will be made for a nasal swab to be collected from far in the back of your nasal passage.
You can get tested in your car.
To reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 in clinics, Monument Health has drive-up testing services, so you can stay in your car while you are tested:
- Rapid City Urgent Care on Jackson Boulevard
- Spearfish at the North 10th Street Clinic
- Custer Hospital & Clinic
- Lead-Deadwood Hospital & Clinic
- Sturgis Hospital & Clinic – video directions
For any patient who wants to schedule a test, they must first call the Nurse Triage Line at 605-755-1350 or 800-279-1466 to set up an appointment. During the appointment, a caregiver in protective gear will collect a test sample by inserting a swab deep inside the nasal passage.
COVID-19 samples are processed in-house or sent to Mayo Clinic.
For hospitalized patients, health care workers and first responders, Monument Health has its own in-house testing that can produce results in less than an hour. For those who are not hospitalized, samples are sent to Mayo Clinic for processing. The turnaround time for Mayo Clinic results is generally 36 hours, depending on the caseload.
When the test is processed, 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.
It’s easier to get a COVID-19 test than it was in the past
In the early stages of the pandemic, CDC guidelines put strict limits on who could be tested for active COVID-19 virus. Since then, the CDC has regularly updated its guidance, and Monument Health has changed its criteria.
Antibody testing can tell if you’ve ever had COVID-19.
For more than 80 percent of COVID-19 cases, symptoms are mild or nonexistent. There have been questions about whether asymptomatic people will even have detectible level of the virus using the PCR test. Another test, which detects COVID-19 antibodies, will tell if you have had the disease in the past. If you have the antibody, you might be more resistant to reinfection. Also, you can donate plasma that can be used to treat seriously ill COVID-19 patients.
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.