NEW RICHMOND — Selects facilities in St. Croix County have COVID-19 test kits on hand and are testing people in accordance with Wisconsin Department of Health services guidelines.
HealthPartners's Westfields and Hudson hospitals, announced as of Wednesday, April 1, they are able to administer in-house COVID-19 testing with results available the same day.
That means specimens are collected, processed at a central laboratory and the results are available within 24 hours.
Both Western Wisconsin Health and River Falls Hospital continue to test with the two-part kits. Hospital and clinic staff can collect the specimen, but it must be sent to an outside lab to complete the test and issue the results. Depending on the backlog at the lab, results can take several days.
Western Wisconsin Health CEO Alison Page said they have roughly 500 collection kits on hand and also have the machine that would allow them to test in-house, but are awaiting cartridges for that machine.
“We plan to have rapid testing in-house. We have the machine on site and we are awaiting the cartridges that go in it to do the COVID-19 test. We are not sure when we will get them. When we have the cartridges, we will be able to run the tests very quickly,” Page said.
“We attempt to keep 13 test kits on hand at our River Falls locations. There has not been a demand higher than that so far,” said Tim Burke, external communication manager for Allina.
The consensus at all of the facilities was that access to instant tests is still a ways off for health organizations in the Midwest, as most of the production is being directed to the east and west coasts, locations with the biggest COVID-19 hotspots.
Allina reported that if the opportunity to purchase the new Abbott Labs rapid, point-of-care COVID-19 tests were available they would obtain them, but that would also require the purchase of the desktop machine needed to process the test. Allina also does not currently use the Abbott Labs equipment.
The number of tests run locally have been minimal so far.
“Less than 30 COVID-19 tests have been ordered so far from our River Falls locations,” said Tim Burke, external communication manager for Allina.
“As of 5 p.m. April 1, 2020, we have tested 29 people. Eighteen have come back negative, 11 are pending,” Page said of Western Wisconsin Health.
According to Westfields CEO Steve Massey, roughly 30 people have been tested at both Westfields and Hudson Hospitals to date with no positive results.