As COVID-19 cases rise, local hospitals working to get people tested, results back quickly

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With COVID-19 cases on the rise, people who want to get tested are having a harder time getting tests or getting back their test results quickly.

Many hospitals say they are doing their best to process tests as fast as they can.

“We are still seeing large volumes of patients come in. Our inpatient volumes continue to go up,” said Marc Larsen, operations director for St. Luke’s Health System’s COVID-19 response team.

St. Luke’s is processing around 800-1,000 tests per day. The University of Kansas Health System is doing about the same number.

Dr. Rachael Liesman, KU Health System’s director of microbiology who also manages their COVID-19 testing lab, said sometimes they have difficulty getting supplies.

“We have had supply chain issues essentially across the board,” Liesman said. “So when this process started, we talked a lot about how we couldn’t find the appropriate swab. And that continues to be a problem, but has been somewhat alleviated.”

She said this isn’t just a problem at the health system, but everywhere.

It comes at a time where Larsen said a growing number of people are showing up to be tested because of symptoms.

“They’re people who have been vigilant and have been masking when they went out. But they’ve had short lapses where they went to a friend’s house for dinner where one had it, and then all of them got it,” Larsen said.

Both hospitals can get results back to patients in a day or two. If patients are high risk, it’s possible to get results within the same day.

“We try to keep our outpatient turnaround time at 48 hours or less,” Liesman said. “This is important for patients, you know. We ask that they go into quarantine, especially if they’re symptomatic while they wait for results. And so we don’t want to force them to quarantine for long periods of time.”

They urge people to keep wearing a mask and wash their hands. It’s the best way to keep yourself and others safe.

“Kudos to the community for embracing some of the mask requirements on both sides of the state line,” Larsen said. “People still have to remain vigilant. The mask is one layer of protection for you, but it’s not the be all, end all.”

Larsen said they are doing more tests daily, and the number of positive cases is on an upswing in the past month.

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