CHAS Health sees large increase in COVID-19 testing

Coronavirus tests came back positive for another 418 residents in Spokane County on Wednesday. The Spokane Regional Health District says one more person died as well.

While the numbers around Spokane have been rising during the past two weeks, so too has the demand for more testing. Healthcare providers like CHAS Health have seen more people come to them for COVID testing than at any point during the pandemic.

They conducted more than 600 tests on Friday and that trend has continued into this week. With the demand so high, the turnaround time for results has gone up as well. The current wait time for results is between two and four days, both from the number of cases and the approaching Thanksgiving holiday.

“We ask that people only be tested if they either have symptoms or have a known exposure and if that’s the case they’re without symptoms and you have a known direct exposure that they only get tested in the five to seven day window,” said Deborah Wiser, chief clinical officer with CHAS Health.

Medical professionals have said this Thanksgiving week will define how December will look in terms of the number of cases and hospitalizations.  This is a concern for an already strained health care system.

“You’ve heard that nurses and doctors are tired, we are.  The caregivers on the front lines have worked hard for months,” said Susan Stacey, COO of Providence Sacred Heart.

The story is the same for the medical providers at CHAS. They’re working to minimize the spread of the virus. However, Wiser says it is reasonable to expect cases to continue to rise into December.

“We are definitely seeing the strain of having our clinical workers be out due to either quarantines or exposures. Or being positive and we are having to readjust our operations based on that and I would just reiterate there is a lot of strain on our healthcare workers,” said Wiser.

One of the ways to manage this virus on limited staffing is to centralize the services. CHAS Health has made it a priority to do just that and they are currently exploring locations that could help them test on a grander scale. The Spokane Arena has been talked about as a potential sight for this.

READ: Local hospitals address staffing, capacity concerns ahead of Thanksgiving