When employees of Nebraska Medicine Internal Medical Associates come outside to screen people, those employees wear gowns, gloves, surgical masks and eye shields.
The surgical mask is known as an N95, which is specifically fitted for each person.
Nebraska Medicine IMA screens people who drive up to the facility, providing that they call first and are Nebraska Medicine patients. They must meet the necessary criteria to be screened.
Employees of CHI Health St. Francis also go outside to screen people who drive up to the hospital. Those people also need to call in advance.
Of the tests facilitated by the Central District Health Department, 27 have been negative. Eight tests are pending, Health Director Teresa Anderson said Tuesday.
Central District Health is working closely with providers to test “those who are in most need of it,” Anderson said.
Tests coordinated by Central District Health are sent to the Nebraska Public Health Lab in Omaha.
Right now, the testing is restricted to people who are hospitalized and health care workers, Anderson said.
Not much has changed, Anderson said. The focus is on preparation. “We’re looking to see how do we get through this? How do we get everybody on board?”
Central District Health is busy communicating with the public about what its responsibilities are. “Because everybody has a part to play,” she said.
Anderson is attending many meetings, “helping folks get on the same page.”
Anderson has received indications that, although there is no proof, COVID-19 is present in Grand Island.
“I will tell you that the providers all believe it to be,” she said.
Providers see many people in their offices every day. “And they’re telling us that if they were able to test more, we would probably be able to find it,” Anderson said. “But we don’t know that.”
If patients don’t meet the criteria for the Nebraska Public Health Lab, providers may send the tests to private labs.
Central District Health tells providers that “if they believe they see a patient that fits the criteria, then that would be an indication for them to ask that patient to self-isolate.”
Recently, Nebraska Medicine screening has mostly focused on health care workers.
But if people are “high-risk,” said Dr. Jennifer Brown of Nebraska Medicine, “we can test them through our office, too,”
Those people might have compromised immune systems or be older than 65 with other chronic diseases or conditions, she said.
Brown said if people don’t meet the criteria for CHI Health St. Francis or Central District Health, they may be tested at St. Francis and have the test sent to a private labs. Rather than 24 or 48 hours, the turnaround time would be more like three or four days, she said.
At a news conference Friday, Brown encouraged people to talk to their relatives in nursing homes. They might call them or, if possible, do a video chat.
Communication would help the morale of people restricted to nursing homes.
That group is an important population that is possibly “even more lonely now,” Brown said.