St. Peter's separates COVID-19 testing from hospital with drive-up service

Posted at 7:05 PM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 00:16:45-04

HELENA — St. Peter’s Health is offering drive-up testing for COVID-19 to help limit the exposure in the facilities. As of Tuesday Mar. 17, the service is only available to people that have been referred for testing by a provider.

“It’s important to point out that testing site is not on demand,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Shelly Harkins. “It is a testing site for patients that have had orders from providers.”

Dr. Harkins said they conducted more than 30 tests Monday and will most likely double that number on Tuesday.

The samples collected are first tested for influenza. If that test comes back negative for influenza, they are then sent off to be tested for coronavirus.

The outside testing is a benefit for patients and staff, as well as increasing social distancing.

“We want to do our part to contribute to social distancing, which is the only real weapon we have against this virus,” said Dr. Harkins. “This is not only protecting patients and staff but protecting the rest of the community. The more we can lessen the spread, the less likely COVID will be a true problem for Montana.”

Dr. Harkins also noted the current flu season has been a particularly bad one, and people should take extra care for personal health and work to prevent the spread of illness in general.

“If you’re sick stay home,” said Dr. Harkins. “There’s no better way to contain the virus from spreading than to contain it in your own home.”

People should also cover their coughs and sneezes; wash their hands often with soap and water; avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth; and clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated.