Beware of differences between providers of COVID testing
Posted July 10, 2020 2:09 p.m. EDT
Updated July 15, 2020 4:40 p.m. EDT
Testing is a necessary means of reducing coronavirus spread. To enable ease of testing, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services launched a website in June that enables users to find the closest testing site to their zip code.
While hospitals, due to shortages, are the only providers of rapid-testing--which provides results within an hour, hundreds of urgent care providers across the state now conduct tests that are sent out to labs with results returned in a wide range of timeframes.
The speed of getting test results has special significance for seniors moving into Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care or Skilled Nursing. Understandably, these communities require a negative test performed within a specified timeframe (in order to minimize the risk of exposure during the time between being tested and moving in).
What I learned this week is that not all places are equal in terms of processing time and expense. Some places can provide results in two days, whereas other places cannot promise results in even ten days. Some places do not require a doctor's medical order in order to get tested; others require you use their nurse or doctor for a short telehealth consult at a cost of $100 before they will test you.
To remove any cost barriers to testing, the NC Care Act covers the cost of the test itself and last Tuesday, the state announced that North Carolinians will no longer need to get a medical order from a doctor in order to receive a coronavirus test.
This is good news.
Of importance, though, if you need to have a test done and processed in a relatively timely manner, beware of certain providers. After not receiving results for a COVID test performed seven days earlier at Avance, I took someone to another provider to get the same test. We received the results from the second provider within two days. Avance called after 14 days to say they had lost the sample and needed to get a new one.
The moral of the story: If you are under a time crunch, call several providers, find out the turn-around time and if there are any associated costs, then go with the best option.
Finally, if you are a senior moving into a community, check and see if they perform their own tests. Many do, like the Cambridge Communities, as well as Waltonwood. They can help ensure the test is completed in the timeframe needed to move in on the desired date.