BVRMC takes on TestIowa effort - Medical center can test up to 100/day

Friday, October 23, 2020
The TestIowa station is now operating in its second week on the medical center campus. / Photos courtesy BVRMC

In its second week hosting a new TestIowa COVID-19 testing station, Buena Vista Regional Medical Center is “slowly working out the kinks” of the new role.

The medical center stepped forward to host testing when the site that had operated at the golf course parking lot was scheduled to close down in early October.

“We felt is was such an essential service, we wanted to make sure that Storm Lake would not be without a testing site,” BVRMC Communications Director Katie Schwint said. “We’re trying to find the best alternatives so that we can operate through the winter.”

So far, the test site has been very busy, especially at the start of the week, she said. The site has capacity to test about 100 people per day. “Based on the license plates we’re seeing, people are coming not just from Buena Vista County, but two or three counties away.”

State officials have indicated to the medical center that the TestIowa program will continue indefinitely. “As of right now, we are planning to run through the whole winter, since there is no effective vaccine available yet,” Schwint said.

Setting up the effort, BVRMC decided to have those arriving for TestIowa come to the Emergency entrance, off West 5th Street, coming inside because the staff has difficulties wearing protective gear with outside winter clothing.

Schwint stresses that there are no walk-ins for testing - people need to continue to register online with TestIowa and receive a code to bring to their testing at the scheduled time. The testing itself takes place in the building normally used for maintenance next to the hospital.

Test results are handled entirely by TestIowa, BVRMC has no control after the lab samples are sent in.

One concern is the staff necessary to operate the test site. “We’re trying to pull people from throughout the hospital to staff it, so we won’t be left very short in any one area,” Schwint explained. “It truly is a team effort.”

The hospital is also providing traffic control in the parking lot to help route people to both TestIowa service and the usual emergency services, which in part ensures that ambulances won’t be blocked from reaching the facility. Signage is provided on Fifth and Northwestern to guide TestIowa visitors, as it is important to route those who may have COVID away from the medical center’s main entry, Schwint said.

BVRMC is also working to avoid possible confusion, as the facility continues to do its own COVID-19 testing within the emergency department, fully separate from the TestIowa program.

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