The University Wellness Center and Mosaic Life Care - Maryville have been at the forefront of COVID-19 testing in Nodaway County.
County healthcare clinics have been referring patients to Mosaic for testing while students can receive testing at the Wellness Center for free.
Medical Director Gerald Wilmes and Assistant Director Judy Frueh said the Wellness Center is providing testing outside of the building in a tent or in peoples’ cars. Though in a call Aug. 24, a Wellness Center representative said the on-campus clinic was only testing students who had first been contacted by the University.
“We have a variety of tests, therefore it’s different criteria,” Frueh said.
Frueh said she recommends if someone is showing symptoms of the coronavirus, to wait and see if they have the symptoms for at least 48 hours before calling the Wellness Center about being tested.
“There is data that suggests the accuracy of a test, if you develop symptoms and it is less than 48 hours, is very, very, very poor,” Wilmes said. “In other words, you will get a false negative and basically get a false sense of security.”
Frueh explained it is important for students to call the Wellness Center and talk to the staff before coming in for testing because it will allow the staff to create a plan of action for that student’s case.
Nate Blackford, the president of Mosaic Life Care - Maryville; Barbara Mullock, the infection protection nurse; and Misty Million, the clinic manager, all said Mosaic is asking people to call ahead if they would like to get tested or are displaying symptoms.
“That helps us — it helps process things more quickly. It helps us get to an answer more quickly. So using that nurse call line and calling ahead is number one,” Blackford said.
The nurse call line is able to help people monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms and set up appointments for testing. The nurse call line will act as an information gathering tool for Mosaic so they can decide whether to set up an appointment for testing or to set up a virtual appointment to further discuss their case.
Million explained that testing prices vary from test to test and may be different because of insurance. She said some insurance companies may not cover asymptomatic tests, but will cover symptomatic testing.
Blackford said Mosaic has been doing drive-thru testing at their walk-in clinic, located at Mosaic Speciality Care - East, to help reduce potential exposure to Mosaic staff members.
Regardless of testing, Frueh said if someone displays COVID-19 symptoms or just doesn’t feel well, the Wellness Center will urge them to isolate themselves and quarantine for at least 14 days, unless otherwise instructed to come to the Wellness Center for testing.
Wilmes added if someone is showing symptoms, at that point testing is pointless because that person would have to quarantine anyway, and a test would simply state the same thing.
Frueh noted if an asymptomatic person would like to be tested, she said the Wellness Center could do this kind of testing, but they would receive a different test than someone who is symptomatic. She said an asymptomatic test would take longer to get back since the person being tested is not displaying symptoms.
Wilmes explained that none of the tests are fully FDA approved because of the urgent need for tests. These tests were labeled under “emergency use authorization,” which allowed the tests to be pushed through to healthcare facilities and labs to start testing.
The tests at the Wellness Center are free to students, but not faculty and staff. The Wellness Center receives tests for free from the state, but they also purchase tests from a commercial lab called “Quest.”
The Wellness Center entered an agreement with the Nodaway County Commission for what they are calling CARES money. This reimbursement agreement will help reimburse the Wellness Center for any expenses incurred relating to the coronavirus. This allows them to continue providing free tests for students.
Tom Patterson, administrator of Nodaway County Health Department, said testing in the county is geared toward symptomatic people and it does not matter if they are a student or not.
“If you are symptomatic … and you see your provider, I have not heard of anyone not able to get tested,” Patterson said.
Patterson noted that people who are asymptomatic and would still like to get tested may have a harder time finding testing. If asymptomatic people are looking to get tested, they may have to “shop around” to find someone who will provide them with a test.
Patterson also said that insurance is most likely not covering that kind of testing, which will make it harder for some people to afford asymptomatic testing.
Patterson said these kinds of tests are limited in what they can do for an asymptomatic person.
“It’s a snapshot of that day,” Patterson said.
Like other local health officials, Patterson noted asymptomatic testing can help discover a few more cases, but that is about all it can really do unless someone who is symptomatic came in for testing.