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What you should know about community COVID-19 testing from Intermountain Healthcare

Intermountain Healthcare

Surae Chinn with ABC4 Utah spoke with Diane Rindlisbacher, RN, special projects executive partner for community testing for Intermountain Healthcare today. Since launching these on March 16, Intermountain has completed more than 72,000 tests – more than 50 percent of all COVID samples collected in Utah,

Intermountain Healthcare has been working diligently since early March to build the state’s largest integrated network of COVID-19 testing locations.

Intermountain currently offers curbside or drive-thru testing at 25 different sites to ensure access to testing for people in communities throughout Utah who are experiencing any one of the six symptoms for COVID.

The sites provide both screening assessment and testing without a physician’s order and are available to everyone with or without health insurance.

Before you go – to save you valuable time and enable caregivers to prepare for you – you’re urged to call the Intermountain COVID-19 Hotline at 844-442-5224, recommends Rindlisbacher.

Intermountain has partnered with the Governor’s office through the Utah Coronavirus Task Force, with state and local health departments, and with colleagues in other healthcare organizations. These partnerships ensure that health providers are following the latest public health guidelines for testing while preparing for a future surge in COVID-19.

New guidance is being discussed for asymptomatic testing. That guidance is not yet finalized.

The asymptomatic testing that Intermountain Healthcare is doing that requires advance authorization to perform includes:

  • Pre-surgical procedure testing and pregnancy-related COVID testing. This requires a doctor’s order.
  • Contact tracing: High-risk contacts, as identified by health department staff can also be tested. This requires the health department to provide the individual with a text or email authorization that takes the place of the order from the provider.

Intermountain is monitoring the supply of swabs, PPE, and staffing levels and may make adjustments based on constraints, as they arise

Intermountain has collaborated with state and local health officials to set up mobile testing sites that are deployed periodically in hot spot locations in parts of the state.

The Utah Department of Health monitors emerging hot spots – areas of the abnormal prevalence of COVID-19 – and has asked Intermountain to set up testing in those locations.

In hot spot locations for one or two days of targeted testing, Intermountain tests all individuals residing in specific zip codes, regardless of whether or not symptoms are present. After the hot-spot testing is completed, they return to ONLY testing individuals who have any of the six symptoms associated with COVID-19.

Asymptomatic testing allows health officials to determine where and how prevalent the virus is spreading. Beyond its mobile testing unit sites, Intermountain does not currently test community members who do not exhibit signs of COVID-19.

Asymptomatic testing does not inform others of their likelihood of contracting the virus in the future. It merely tells whether or not a patient has the virus at the time of testing. Because of this, community members are encouraged to be vigilant in social distancing, hand washing and other CDC-issued guidelines to lessen the spread of COVID-19.

To help ease worries about payment for testing, the passing of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act means that insurance providers must cover all COVID-19 testing and related exam costs, with no direct costs (e.g. co-pays) to the patient for those who have symptoms of COVID and a provider order for the test.

Additionally, the Act also allows for testing for all people, regardless of insurance status. If new guidance around billing is released by government payers, Intermountain will evaluate that and make adjustments when appropriate.

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