Businesses facing a possible coronavirus outbreak often face long waits for test results and high bills to their insurance for employee tests. The wait can force a business to close completely or operate slower as employees wait for results.
To help, the Chamber of Catawba County created a testing program with local hospitals and a Raleigh-based laboratory to give businesses group testing with 48-hour test results and a discounted price.
The delay in knowing whether an employee is positive can also delay a business’s response time, which could lead to further spread, said Lindsay Keisler, chamber president. While testing delays are a national issue, she decided to solve it locally.
“I kept getting calls from businesses of all sizes who were frustrated with the lag in testing turnaround time,” Keisler said. “It was between six to 10 days before people were getting their actual results, so think of the loss of activity that occurred. … And the lag in knowledge just knowing if an employee is positive. That’s a national issue but I thought, ‘Surely we can create a local solution.’”
The chamber met with Frye Regional Medical Center, Catawba Valley Health System and Catawba County Public Health to scrape together a plan. The hospitals would be able to do the sampling, but Keisler had to find a lab to manage the tests quickly. She found Mako Medical Laboratories in Raleigh, who promised results in 48 hours, she said.
The quick results will be a benefit to a wide range of businesses and industries, Eddie Beard, president and CEO of Catawba Valley Health System, said in a press release.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many unprecedented challenges for all of our workforces,” he said. “We are encouraged and excited to partner with the chamber to help provide COVID testing that gives businesses the information needed to make the best and most efficient decisions possible for their employees and the community. This program is a great example of what makes our community great — organizations working together to provide the type of services needed during these uncertain times.”
The testing won’t only be a benefit to businesses, but the entire community.
“We understand the importance of continual testing, as well as, receiving the results quickly,” Frye CEO Rod Harkleroad said in the release. "This program will aid in ensuring that employees will stay safe while at work and assist in keeping our communities safe and healthy.”
More testing can help slow the spread of the coronavirus. If someone tests positive, public health can trace their contacts and let people know they have been in contact with someone positive for COVID-19, Catawba County Public Health Director Jennifer McCracken said in the release.
“We are excited to see another testing option coming to our county,” McCracken said. “Testing is an important tool in the COVID-19 toolbox and helps people make decisions that will help protect their families, friends, coworkers and our community’s most vulnerable residents.”
The program also allows businesses to pay the laboratory directly at $100 per test, which could mean savings in their insurance in the long run, Keisler said.
Businesses can also use the program to get their employees other health services like flu shots and health screenings.
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