Memorial on testing: We're not there yet

Responses related to our report of woman seeking COVID-19 test

click to enlarge STOCK PHOTO OF WOMAN BEING MEDICALLY TESTED WITH SWAB
stock photo of woman being medically tested with swab
Last week, we reported about one woman's experience trying to get tested for COVID-19 after returning home to Springfield from Spain and experiencing respiratory symptoms. After going to a drive-up Memorial clinic, she said she was told she would be tested for flu and strep, and then later for the new coronavirus if those tests came back negative.

She tried to get tested elsewhere, as she said she wasn’t told whether her insurance would cover the cost of the testing.

In an email response late Sunday afternoon, a spokesperson for Memorial Health System said this, regarding our question about how the costs of tests would be covered:


"We have an obligation to make sure that the communities we serve are safe. In this rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic, we are screening patients and testing patients, and we will figure out how and whether to charge and bill for these services later. We are conducting about 150 virtual-care visits a day through our MemorialNow service to promote social distancing, and we’re not charging people for that. Our focus is taking care of sick people."

Memorial said it has further limited its testing since the woman sought a test. Here is the statement:

The protocol continues to change based on the availability of testing. Unfortunately, we have had to restrict the testing criteria more recently because the Illinois Department of Public Health lab is no longer testing COVID-19 tests from outpatients, and because some of the private labs have indicated that they don’t have the capacity, either. As the capacity increases, we will liberalize the criteria for the patients we test. We would want to test any person being admitted to one of our hospitals for respiratory illness, but we cannot do this now because of limited availability of test kits. We want every person whom a health-care provider thinks needs a test to get a test. We’re not there yet. The current criteria from the Illinois Department of Public Health, which we are following for the moment, says that you can be tested for COVID-19 if you are an acutely ill, hospitalized patient or you live in a congregate setting such as a senior-living center, an extended-care facility, a jail, a group home or a homeless shelter.

Click here for a list of local resources, including medical hotlines.

Contact Rachel Otwell at rotwell@illinoistimes.com and follow her on Twitter: @MsOtwell.

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