Long-term care facility steers away from State Hygienic Lab COVID-19 testing

Published: Sep. 21, 2020 at 11:41 PM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Long-term care facilities have seen a lot more COVID-19 outbreaks over the last couple of months.

The increase comes as the state said it does not have the resources to process increased testing in accordance with new federal guidelines for those facilities.

SunnyCrest Manor is the only long-term care facility in Dubuque County with a reported coronavirus outbreak. According to administrator Cris Kirsch, the facility has eight positive residents and six positive staff members. Because of this, she said they have had to ramp up testing.

“Before the outbreak, we were testing just staff weekly," Kirsch said. "Now we are testing staff and residents twice weekly.”

That testing regime amounts to more than 500 tests per week.

“The State Hygienic Lab is so busy it takes so many days to get our test results back,” Kirsch said. “We are going to try to stay away from the State Hygienic Lab for now."

They are doing that with the help of an antigen testing machine. With this method, they get test results in 15 minutes. If the test comes back positive, then they run a PCR test through the State Hygienic Lab just to verify results.

“We can do the testing with our antigen testing machines as long as we maintain the supplies and then we also have contract with a private lab to do testing," Kirsch said.

In terms of safety measures, she said they have put together a special room for the sick residents and have stopped window visits for loved ones.

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