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National Guard to help Monument Health with COVID-19 testing

Guardsman collecting sample
South Dakota National Guard member Dylan Kasma collects a sample from a patient at the drive-through testing site at the Monument Health Urgent Care Clinic on Jackson Boulevard in Rapid City. 

RAPID CITY, S.D., (Aug. 31, 2021) – With COVID-19 spreading quickly across western South Dakota, Monument Health has asked the South Dakota National Guard to assist with COVID-19 test collection.

Nine Guard members are primarily assisting with sample collection at Monument Health’s drive-through locations in Rapid City, Spearfish, Belle Fourche, Sturgis and Custer. The members began their work this morning.

Emily Leech, Director of the Monument Health Laboratory Services, said that testing volume in August was 115 percent higher than it was in July. Within the last seven days, 2,856 COVID-19 PCR tests were completed, and 844 were positive for a positivity rate of 29.6 percent.

Monument Health has adequate analyzers and other lab equipment, Leech said, and assistance from the National Guard will allow Monument Health to test more patients and fully utilize testing equipment.

It’s one of several steps Monument Health is taking to meet rising demand for medical
services. The health care system has been extremely busy in August. A month ago, the system had fewer than 10 hospitalized COVID-19 patients. By Monday, Aug. 30, the number had increased to 110.


Dan Daly
Monument Health

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