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U of U switching to appointment only COVID-19 testing, saying demand for tests is sky high

(Credit: U of U Health)

SALT LAKE CITY – As the number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases goes up, the demand for testing is also skyrocketing.  Officials at University of Utah Health say the demand has become so severe, they’re going to have to administer these tests by appointment only.

Imagine this scenario.  You get in your car to drive to a COVID-19 facility to be tested.  You see a line of cars around the building.  You wait, possibly up to three hours to get to the front of the line, and when you get there… the technicians tell you that you don’t meet the criteria to be tested.

(A line of cars waiting for COVID-19 testing at a center in South Jordan. Credit: U of U Health)

University of Utah Health Nursing Supervisor Natalie Cuthbert says it’s a frustrating scenario that’s happening all too often for many people.

Cuthbert says, “When they get to the tent, itself, and they interact with staff, it’s heartbreaking to have to say, ‘I’m so sorry, but you don’t qualify for testing.’”

She says this frustration rubs off on the hospital staff, many of which have been out in the heat for hours themselves.  However, she says by switching to an appointment-only system they can eliminate unnecessary waiting and do a better job of weeding out patients who may not be eligible for the test.  Cuthbert says the patients already have enough to worry about even if they do qualify.

“Not only are they scared and not only are they anxious, but they’ve been sitting in their cars for several hours,” she says.

(A staffer at the U of U Redwood COVID-19 testing center. Credit: U of U Health)

This new scheduling system goes into effect starting Monday, and health officials are concerned there will be a lot of confusion about it.  Until now, they haven’t had to turn anyone away but that will change if people don’t make their appointment.

Doctor Richard Orlandi says, We need to make a change so we can better care for our patients, our community and those seeking testing.”

Doctors believe they will still be able to test the same number of people as before, but this system will be more efficient.  Orlandi says the virus is affecting their employees just as much as the rest of the community, and their resources are so strained, they can’t expand the testing.

“We are being affected by some if our employees having to stay home because of symptoms, a family member that’s ill or for quarantine reasons.  So, we are finding it difficult to expand the testing to keep up with the demand,” he says.

People can make an appointment through MyChart, the MyChart app or they can go the University’s COVID-19 website.



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