LMH Health sees delay in time for COVID-19 test results; county to stay in Phase 3

Also: Bars to remain closed

photo by: Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

Medical personnel conduct coronavirus testing at LMH Health in Lawrence on Tuesday, May 12, 2020.

It’s taking longer for outpatients to receive results from COVID-19 tests taken at Lawrence’s hospital, LMH Health said Wednesday, and access to testing will likely only get more difficult over the next several weeks.

Locals who get a COVID-19 test taken at Lawrence’s hospital will likely not find out their results for five to seven days, the hospital said in its COVID-19 update. This increase in turnover time is only for those tests which are sent to outside labs, which have been backlogged, the hospital stated.

In-house testing, on the other hand, gives results in less than an hour. But due to supply limitations, in-house testing is limited to inpatients, emergency department patients who are being admitted and emergency surgery patients who were not able to be pre-screened.

“We continue to evaluate and re-evaluate strategies to meet the best turn-around-time for results,” infectious disease physician Dr. Jennifer Schrimsher said. “As we move into the next several weeks, access to testing across the nation will only get worse. But we will continue to work to find whatever avenues possible to serve our community in the most meaningful way possible.”

Schrimsher added that LMH Health is working on expanding capacity at its drive-through testing site as well as evaluating locations for additional sites in the community.

At Stormont Vail Health in Topeka, turnaround times for COVID-19 tests are also increasing, spokesman Matt Lara said in an email to the Journal-World. He said that in-house tests are processed in about 45 minutes, but that those sent to outside laboratories can take up to six days to receive results.

“The average turnaround times for the results have been between 1-2 days. However, this week we have seen the days increase for certain laboratories,” he wrote.

At the University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City, Kan., Jill Chadwick, director of media relations, told the Journal-World that the turnaround time for results is one day for inpatients and two days for outpatients.

“We are being asked to perform testing for other hospitals that are unable to meet capacity and are evaluating the feasibility of that ask in addition to expanding our own capacity,” she wrote in an email to the Journal-World. “Testing supplies are becoming a challenge again.”

Also on Wednesday, Douglas County health officer Dr. Thomas Marcellino announced that Douglas County will remain in Phase 3 of its reopening plan, and that the health order that closed bars on July 3 will remain in place. The news release did not state how long the health order would remain nor how long the county would stay in Phase 3.

Douglas County has reported 482 cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday, an increase of 21 cases since Tuesday. Of those 482 cases, 108 have been tied to bar environments.

“Since the bar closing order and the masking order both took effect in early July, we have seen the number of new cases come down, so we believe these have been effective measures to help slow the spread of the virus,” Marcellino said in a health department news release. “However, the disease investigation process has connected a large number of our recent cases directly or indirectly to individuals who congregated at bar environments in June. The number of cases in the community is still higher than it was in earlier months of the pandemic, and LMH Health currently has seven in-patients positive for COVID-19, the highest since the pandemic began.”

Seven patients at Lawrence’s hospital had COVID-19 on Wednesday, an increase of three patients since Tuesday.

In Douglas County, 315 out of the 482 cases are inactive or beyond the infectious period, according to Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s online map noted that 9,028 Douglas County residents had been tested for the disease so far. The county’s testing rate per 1,000 people was 73.8.


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