St. Charles Hospital Expects To Start Coronavirus Testing For Quicker Results

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St. Charles just announced this new development to start their own on-site testing for COVID 19. Below is the story as reported by OPB on April 10th.

From OPM by Emily Cureton

In Central Oregon, the region’s hub for health care is about to start doing its own coronavirus testing, according to leaders from St. Charles Medical Center. Go to the ARTICLE HERE.

Test samples collected in Bend have been going to a lab in Washington state, which can take 48 hours or longer to report back. This week, hospital leaders say they expect to begin faster testing, on-site.

“The turnaround time will be in just a number of hours, rather than days. And so this is a big development for us,” said St. Charles’ chief physician executive, Dr. Jeff Absalon.

In-house testing will be limited at first, and will depend on the continued availability of lab materials, he said.

Initially, the hospital’s criteria for testing was extremely restrictive, largely due to a shortage of supplies such as nasal swabs. But Absalon said St. Charles now has the capacity to test anyone with symptoms of the virus.

“We have the availability to do more testing than what is being demanded,” he said Thursday at a virtual town hall meeting. “If people are having symptoms consistent with COVID-19 disease, please reach out to your care provider and access care so you can be tested.”

St Charles’ Bend facility is the designated regional hospital to coordinate care for seriously ill patients in both Central and Eastern Oregon during the pandemic.

As of Thursday afternoon, the hospital reported conducting over 900 tests, with 33 positive results of the 46 known confirmed cases in Central Oregon overall.

St. Charles’ modeling of the pandemic shows a peak in cases still more than three weeks away.

At press time, eight people in Bend were hospitalized for the coronavirus, with two patients in the intensive care unit.

Meanwhile, St. Charles is among hospitals around the country stressed by financial losses. Chief financial officer Jenn Welander said revenue has dropped 45%, while costs related to coronavirus response continue to climb.

Welander said the hospital isn’t in danger of closing.

“If no revenue and no support was to come in, we could operate the health system at its current level for eight months. That’s a significant amount,” she said, adding that St. Charles has applied for emergency relief, as well as a federal loan.

No employees have been laid off or furloughed, according to hospital spokeswoman Lisa Goodman.

Protective equipment for staff remains a big concern. The latest estimate projects three to four weeks of those supplies are on hand if there’s no surge in virus patients. And if there is a surge, the PPE could be gone in a matter of days, according to St. Charles’ CEO Joe Sluka.

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