Intermountain Medical Center

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Comfortable COVID testing for patients at community test sites

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Intermountain Healthcare is making some adjustments at its community COVID test sites throughout the state to make it more convenient and comfortable for people to be tested for the coronavirus.

Starting last week, Intermountain introduced reserved arrival windows at testing sites and a streamlined check-in process and phased out the nasal swab collection process (where they have to use a long swab in your nose) and moved to a more comfortable and convenient saliva-based sample collection process.

People are encouraged you to use these new tools for a simpler, faster experience when getting testing, according to Dr. Anthony Wallin, who oversees the community test sites for Intermountain Healthcare.

It takes just three simple steps:

1. Call the Intermountain Healthcare COVID-19 Hotline at 844-442-5224 to get a test ordered (or after your provider orders one). Your reserved arrival window is a period of one hour. Please arrive at the testing site during this time. Because it isn’t an appointment, you may experience a wait before being tested. You will be sent a text message and an email with two links.

2. The first link will take you to a website where you can reserve an arrival window at your nearest testing site. Simply follow the instructions to reserve your spot.

3. When you arrive at the testing site, open the second link, which takes you to a QR code. A caregiver will scan the barcode or ask for the number, confirm your identity, and check you in.

Also, Intermountain Healthcare has transitioned to saliva-based COVID-19 testing at its community testing sites throughout Utah for patients ages six and older in an effort to make the testing process more comfortable and streamlined for patients.  

This method of sample collection requires 3 mL of saliva (not sputum or mucus). Children ages five and younger, as well as those who cannot produce enough saliva, will still be tested by nasopharyngeal swab. 

“This new process should be much more comfortable for patients and enable us to collect samples from more patients at one time while continuing to maintain a high quality of our testing,” said Bert Lopansri, MD, associate medical director for infectious diseases and medical director for microbiology for Intermountain Healthcare.  

Though the collection method is changing, the test itself is not. Intermountain will continue to utilize the same Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing process to maintain a high level of quality.

Patients who are planning on being tested shouldn’t take anything by mouth at least 30 minutes before their sample collection. This includes eating, drinking, brushing teeth, using mouthwash, chewing gum, using mints, smoking, or chewing tobacco. 

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