MEDFORD, Ore. — As Oregon increasingly goes on lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus, hospitals are at last gaining the ability to more rapidly collect samples from potential patients and send them off for testing.
On Tuesday, Asante allowed NewsWatch 12 to get a closer look at their pop-up collection site in Medford.
The site sits alongside an Asante building on Center Drive in south Medford, between Fred Meyer and Harbor Freight Tools. Here, people are able to drive up, have a nasal swab performed by medical staff, and then the swab will be sent to a private lab somewhere in the country.
The tests themselves only take a few minutes to perform.
“The Oregon State laboratory is still doing testing for our inpatients and we’re sending these tests to commercial laboratories. Commercial laboratories that have the ability to have high throughput testing, but everybody in the country is also using those same laboratories,” said Dr. Scott Wilber, vice president of medical affairs at Rogue Regional Medical Center.
However, the collection site isn't for just anyone to drive up and get tested. The location is specifically for people who have been referred by a doctor to get the test after meeting necessary criteria.
"We’re really trying to funnel all of our nasal swab testing to this site," said Dr. Wilber. "We do recommend though, that people who are relatively well that they take advantage of video visits. That allows us to keep the social distancing and keep us from having sick people congregating together in waiting rooms.”
Dr. Wilber said that Asante has set up a call line for patients to call in and get advice — and the line has promptly been inundated with calls from the community. On Monday, Dr. Wilber said, they fielded more than 600 questions.
“I think the biggest benefit that we’re seeing . . . we’re keeping hundreds of people from going to the emergency department when they’re sick with upper respiratory illness and congregating together in crowded waiting rooms,” said Dr. Wilber.