KANSAS CITY, Mo. — First responders at more than 40 metro agencies now can get drive-thru coronavirus testing at Saint Luke’s Health System.
Those on the front lines of this battle need the peace of mind that testing provides.
Testing is one of the best tools to make sure first responders stay safe or are quickly isolated in quarantine to prevent further spread of the virus.
Saint Luke’s Health System said it now conducts it’s own testing from start to finish.
In the next week the health system said it expects to get about a 45-minute turnaround time on the tests it performs for patients, health care workers and now emergency responders.
“They are high, high-risk personnel and we need to make sure they get tested,” said Dr. Marc Larsen, an emergency physician at St. Luke’s. “Make sure they have access to PPE. And we need to make sure we care for them. They are our brothers and sisters in this fight. We need to make sure they have representation and a voice in this.”
While Larsen believes testing capability has greatly improved in the metro area, there still is a shortage of personal protective equipment for police, fire and emergency medical technicians.
He cited the death of a Kansas City EMT on Monday as an example that should be minimized if the nation does what’s necessary to protect those on the front lines of this fight.
“The lack of the availability of PPE to be used on every patient, for every call, at every moment is still concerning,” Larsen said. “We think about the risk that these first responders are placed in: gong into persons of interests’ houses, potentially exposing themselves by touching things or being around those people in their environment. Then placed in the back of a small ambulance with someone who may be coughing or sick.”
The hospital said it’s working to rapidly expand testing, opening a fourth satellite testing site at Saint Luke’s on the Plaza to eliminate inequalities for people who don’t have a vehicle. Now, those who can walk up or take the bus also can be tested for COVID-19.
Larsen said the numbers appear to be flattening in the metro area, but he said that shouldn’t give folks a false sense of security.
He said it only takes one person coughing in the grocery story for the virus to take off again.