CHI Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg is one of two hospitals in Southern Oregon that is participating in the COVID-19 Surveillance in Oregon program.
The Oregon Health Authority is working with emergency rooms and urgent care clinics in Oregon to gather information about the number of COVID-19 infections in the state as quickly as possible.
Emergency room workers at Mercy will conduct random tests to collect 15 samples each week from asymptomatic patients who may be infected but don’t show any symptoms.
Should they agree to participate, patients will not be charged for the test.
“If you agree to join, you will be swabbed for COVID-19 for free,” said Kathleen Nickel, director of communications at Mercy. “If you do not want to join, there is no penalty and you will receive the same care you otherwise would have for your visit.”
Swabs are being collected for COVID-19 testing from patients who might have the disease and from other patients who are being seen for different reasons.
OHA will provide the facilities and publish a patient education flyer concerning the surveillance program.
“Tests must still be sent out, with the results typically available within one week or less,” Nickel said.
The tests will go to the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory in Hillsboro to be processed.
OHA officials said the testing will help them understand just how much COVID-19 is in the state and how many people may be infected without symptoms.
Positive results will be reported to the Douglas Public Health Network for follow up and contact tracing. Patients with positive results will be asked to isolate until 72 hours after their fever and cough have vanished.
If patients are asymptomatic, they will be asked to quarantine until seven days following their test date.
In addition to providing educational flyers, providers are encouraged to review all information with the patient.
The OHA plans to continue surveillance enhancement activities, initially, for 52 weeks through week 18 of 2021, and may be extended as needed.