Hospitals are changing their COVID testing programs

Holland Hospital planning to end drive-through testing while Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids is still seeing a high volume of requests to be tested
Posted at 4:53 PM, Jun 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-26 17:40:35-04

HOLLAND, Mich. — Hospitals around West Michigan are beginning to change how they operate their COVID testing programs, with some planning to end their drive-through services.

Holland Hospital announced Friday that they would stop doing drive-through testing in a week, on July 3.

“There's actually some bittersweet moments. Some people are saying that they're going to miss it out here, but they're definitely eager to get back to their their normal daily routine,” said Kara Heck, Performance Improvement Manager for Holland Hospital.

“We have seen the need in our community for testing drop and we have thankfully seen our positive rates drop as well. So we've, at this time, decided that it It was time for us to reevaluate our focus.”

Heck says this will allow the hospital to re-assign staff members to departments where they are greatly needed.

“We've talked to over 7,000 of our community members through our hotline. We've tested over 6,000 patients through our testing center," Heck said.

There were 8 operators working the hotline back in March, when the hospital would receive about 300 COVID-related calls a day. Now there are just 2 operators handling a much smaller call volume.

The hotline will stay up but will become automated on July 3.

Over in Grand Rapids though, the demand for testing remains high.

“Testing is not going away, and in fact, is ramping up. In the early days I think we went from testing like 100 a day and now we're upwards close to 2000 a day," said Keith Hustak, VP of Urgent Care, Occupational and Virtual Health for Spectrum.

So while drive-through testing in Grand Rapids isn't going anywhere anytime soon, the way tests are scheduled has changed.

“We are now utilizing our MyHealth app, where you can literally download the app. Not talk to a physician... you can basically self-select what your symptoms are and then self-schedule to get a test done,” Hustak told FOX 17.

The application allows patients under any provider to quickly select what day and time works best for them.

“It's easier for us to staff it, you know, as we've gotten busier now outside of COVID, going back to normal volumes," Hustak said.

"These are all things that we're doing to help... make it easier for patients first and foremost and then also for us on our end."

Because of a recent executive order, registered nurses are now also able to sign for a COVID testing order.

Spectrum Health also has a new type of swab test that patients can receive, one that doesn't go quite so far up your nose.

“We're now offering just the Nares test. And what that means is it just goes in the anterior portion of your nose, it's a lot more patient friendly,” Hustak said.

“There are some people who... really want the Nares or really want the Nasopharyngeal, and we try to educate them as to what's the best for their situation."