Falls Community Health combating COVID-19 with rapid in-house testing

Local News

Tens of thousands of COVID-19 tests have been done in South Dakota.

One of the medical providers adding to that tally is Falls Community Health.

Falls Community Health is a division of the Sioux Falls Health Department.

“We serve patients from all across the city, specifically really focusing on those that are vulnerable, patients that don’t have insurance or patients that are underinsured. We also work with homeless patients here, homeless guests here in Sioux Falls, as well as new refugees that arrive,” Falls Community Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jennifer Tinguely said.

Falls Community Health has the ability to do rapid in-house testing of its patient’s thanks to a pair of machines the clinic secured with the help of the South Dakota Department of Health.

While a machine can only analyze one test at a time, results are available in 30 minutes or less.

“Sometimes patients are still here waiting for their test results,” Dr. Tinguely said.

“When we first started doing the testing, this pandemic caught us off guard and labs weren’t ready to do this. It was taking 2,3,4 days to get results back that we sent out. Well, what do you do with someone who’s ill for that time being not really knowing if it’s COVID or what it might be?” Public Health Lab Manager Rick Pudwill said.

So far, Falls Community Health has done about 100 in-house tests.

“This virus is very contagious, so we want to know when people have it so we can get them isolated as quickly as possible,” Dr. Tinguely said.

If you think you need a COVID-19 test, you should call your medical provider first, instead of showing up first.

Falls Community Health can also send tests to the state lab or to an area health system.

Testing isn’t the only way the clinic has responded to COVID-19.

Other steps it’s taking include seeing patients for routine visits in the morning, and more serious illnesses or respiratory-related visits in the afternoon.

“The patients in the morning can feel comfortable about coming in and not getting exposed, so that’s one of the biggest changes we’ve done,” Clinical Services Manager Katie Wick said.

Wick says there are also social distancing measures in place.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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