Wed, June 16

Cottonwood hospital now collects COVID-19 samples

VVN file photo

VVN file photo

COTTONWOOD - For about a week, Northern Arizona Healthcare has been making plans to set up a site to collect specimens to be tested for COVID-19.

Beginning Thursday, that site will be open 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Verde Valley Medical Center, 269 S. Candy Lane, Cottonwood.

Hours are subject to opening or closing based on the availability of supplies to collect the samples, according to a news release Wednesday by Northern Arizona Healthcare.

The collection site will be directly behind the education and marketing buildings and the dirt parking lot, with access through Willard Street, according to NAH Marketing Specialist Karlee Weiler.

Plans for setting up a collection site “have been underway since last week, pending the availability of enough supplies to operate it,” according to the release. “Recent shipments make it possible for the site to open. Continued operation depends upon supplies being available.”

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

“They can receive this by calling their primary care provider’s office,” according to the statement from Northern Arizona Healthcare. “Only those with symptoms consistent with the screening criteria will have a sample collected.”

Testing ‘reserved for high-priority patients’

Symptoms for COVID-19 – also known as the coronavirus – include cough, fever, tiredness and in severe cases, difficulty breathing. But most people with COVID-19 develop mild symptoms, said Terri Farneti, public health coordinator with Yavapai County Community Health Services.

“If you have mild symptoms, please do not seek medical care, but do stay home and practice social distancing from others in the household where possible,” Farneti said. “If you do have shortness of breath or more severe symptoms, please call your health care provider to get instructions before arriving.”

According to Farneti, different testing criteria, limited supplies and other factors mean that not everyone can get a test, particularly people with no symptoms and minimal risk factors.

Which is why testing “is reserved for high-priority patients – those with underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease, or immunosuppressive therapy, and for people working in a health care environment and providing direct care to patients,” Farneti said.

According to Yavapai County Community Health Services, people may be sick with the virus for as many as 14 days before developing symptoms.

Although there are a limited amount of kits to collect samples, Northern Arizona Healthcare is “making sure to keep a supply for the critically ill who may need hospitalization, before we collect samples from those with less serious symptoms,” said Ron Haase, Northern Arizona Healthcare chief administrative officer for the Verde Valley.

Once Northern Arizona Healthcare has been notified of the results from the testing facility, patients will be notified, the news release stated.

Any questions, call the COVID-19 Public Hotline at 1-833-708-0894.

Limited supply of COVID-19 test kits

Yavapai County Community Health Services said Tuesday on its website that COVID-19 testing in the United States isn’t able to keep up with the demand.

With what she called a limited supply of test kits, Copper Canyon Family Health in Camp Verde has collected specimens from five of its patients since March 16, according to Jennifer Hinds, practice manager.

“I think it’s a problem in Yavapai County,” Hinds said of the quantity of test kits. “I wish we had an abundance of tests, that we could test everybody. But we don’t.”

Doctors at Copper Canyon know the COVID-19 symptoms, Hinds said. “Unfortunately, all the symptoms are similar to the flu.”

Over the past few weeks, Copper Canyon physicians “haven’t seen a lot of sick people,” Hinds said.

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-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @AZShutterbug42

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