Have COVID-19 symptoms? Think you came in contact with a positive case? Need to be tested to return to work or travel?
These questions have left many people wondering, who’s really eligible for being test in Tillamook County?
COVID-19 testing at both Adventist Health locations and the Tillamook County Health Department follow the criteria outlined by Oregon Health Authority and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The criteria includes first consulting with a medical professional to determine if testing is necessary.
“We encourage patients who think they need testing for COVID-19 symptoms or exposure, to call our offices and make an appointment for an in-person or virtual evaluation,” said Cherie Plaisted, Marketing and Communication Manager for Adventist Health. “During the call, tell the provider about your symptoms and how you think you may have been exposed to the virus.”
While a healthcare provider must order the test, Adventist Health is conducting tests for patients who are required to have them by employers to return to work and when required for travel purposes.
“To keep everyone safe, anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should call their healthcare provider in advance of any visit to discuss their illness and allow the provider to prepare for your arrival,” Plaisted said.
Results from the tests vary in wait time depending on availability of supplies and capacity.
“For patients with symptoms, we provide rapid point-of-care testing, also known as PCR testing,” Plaisted said. “Adventist Health Tillamook uses the Abbott Rapid ID PCR test units at our clinics in Manzanita, Lincoln City, Vernonia and Estacada, as well as at our medical center here in Tillamook. Rapid ID test results are available within 20 to 40 minutes of testing. For clinics without PCR, the tests are sent to the hospital for analysis and are available within 24 hours. Test results from outside labs take an average of five days to return, depending on the lab's capacity, staffing, and other factors.”
Those who need testing for non-medical reasons (travel or return to work) should plan ahead to allow for time for test results to be returned.
“Each week, we receive a specific number of tests and swabs for each rapid point-of-care testing site based on our needs,” Plaisted said. “One of the benefits of being a part of a system of hospitals is that if our demand grows, we can access additional supplies, beds and expertise should we need it. However, the number of available tests and swabs are limited, so we must test based upon CDC and OHA guidelines. We work hard to manage the testing resources to balance an individual's desired to be tested with their need to be tested. By managing our testing resources carefully, we can ensure that we have testing supplies available to meet all of the needs for medically necessary testing.”
Early on in the pandemic, testing availability was extremely limited based upon strict criteria from the CDC.
“As supplies and equipment have become available, we have increased testing based on guidelines, directives and needs,” said Plaisted.
For those receiving tests at the Tillamook County Health Department, patients can expect to wait three to five days for results as they are all sent to the State lab.
According to Tillamook County Director of Emergency Management Gordon McCraw, currently, the Health Department receives 10 tests a week from the State.
“If we had a spike, they would ship many more,” McCraw said.