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Northern Arizona Healthcare expands COVID-19 specimen collection protocols

Northern Arizona Healthcare has expanded its COVID-19 specimen collection protocols to include patients classified as “lower risk and community surveillance,” NAH announced at Thursday’s media briefing. VVN/Bill Helm

Northern Arizona Healthcare has expanded its COVID-19 specimen collection protocols to include patients classified as “lower risk and community surveillance,” NAH announced at Thursday’s media briefing. VVN/Bill Helm

COTTONWOOD — Northern Arizona Healthcare has expanded its COVID-19 specimen collection protocols to include patients classified as “lower risk and community surveillance,” Chief Quality Officer John Mougin said Thursday during NAH’s weekly media briefing.

Patients who are in NAH’s fourth tier of NAH’s four-tiered testing guidelines are “in outpatient settings who have fever or signs/symptoms of a lower respiratory tract illness testing without comorbidities, and not requiring hospitalization.”

Patients in the fourth tier, Mougin explained Thursday, are also eligible to be tested. This fourth tier of testing expands Northern Arizona Healthcare announcement last week that its COVID-19 specimen collection sites would test patients in tiers 1-3, meaning patients showing symptoms of COVID-19 and at higher risk, hospitalized patients suspected of having COVID-19, and critically ill patients.

Northern Arizona Healthcare continues to offer two specimen collection sites in the Verde Valley. The site at Verde Valley Medical Center, 269 S. Candy Lane in Cottonwood, is open from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays.

The Immediate Care at Northern Arizona Healthcare’s Camp Verde campus, 1298 Finnie Flat Road, collects COVID-19 specimens from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. weekends.

According to Leon Pontikes, chief medical officer for Verde Valley Medical Center and Northern Arizona Healthcare, NAH’s role in testing is “to collect the sample.”

“The thing that limits us is the number of swabs available,” Pontikes said. “We start some days with just enough to get us through the day.”

Patients need a written order from a physician or provider for a sample to be collected.

For more information, visit nahealth.com.

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @AZShutterbug42

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