Papillion urgent care screening for COVID-19, testing when needed with hopes to expedite results

Published: Apr. 4, 2020 at 12:17 AM CDT
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A Papillion urgent care center has been screening patients for COVID-19 trying to take some pressure off of Omaha-metro emergency rooms. Urgent care of Papillion has been screening patients for the virus for about three weeks.

Officials say no COVID-19 patients are allowed in the building. Patients are stopped at the door and screened before they walk in.

If a patient thinks they have symptoms of coronavirus, they have to call in and are asked a few questions before a sample is collected outside in the parking lot while the patient waits in their vehicle.

“Somebody will put on all the gear — personal protective equipment — go outside, get their vital signs, listen to the lungs and test them if necessary,” said Pete Crane, PAC.

“We have enough supplies,” he said. “We can test about 20 people a day.”

Ashley Pomerene is one employee here who administers the test. Today, she is testing someone the flu — not entirely different than the test for coronavruis. Even though the test is about the same, even with all the protective gear, Pomerene has some concerns when testing a person with symtoms of COVID-19.

“I have four kids,” she said. “I think there is a certain amount of fear we’re all experiencing, and I think the biggest fear is the unknown.”

Pomerence runs the test for the flu in the same machine that can also test for COVID-19. The owners plan to upgrade this piece of testing equipment, however, to help test results for coronavirus to come faster.

“They’re sending that out now — hopefully within one to two weeks,” Pomerene said. “We’re going to have the material so that we can actually do point-of-care testing: You can come in here, get tested, and within five minutes, we’ll have a positive result. It may take 15 minutes to see the full negative.”

Point-of-care testing will give medical officials a better idea of how many people have COVID-19 and will help determine how widespread the virus is

Pomerene said she believes modified testing equipment will help, and shes optimistic about how this crisis will end.

“T think we’re going to make it through and come out stronger,” she said.

Crane said in about three weeks, his urgent care center has screened about 150 people; 30 of those patients were tested, and six of those tests came back positive for COVID-19. That testing was conducted in an outside lab.

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