South Dakota healthcare workers ready to begin statewide COVID-19 testing of nursing home residents

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — Local health care providers say they’ll be up to the challenge when it comes time to test thousands of nursing home and assisted living center residents across South Dakota. The tests begin on Monday and are expected to take about a month.

South Dakota health care providers say they’ll have enough supplies and staff to test thousands of nursing home residents starting next week.

“We’re comfortable with the laboratories we’ll be working with and the support of the state department of health, they’ve assured us that they will assist with swabs and other supplies as necessary. They will also assure us that we have enough personal protective equipment for our staff who will be performing the testing,” Avera Sacred Heart CEO Doug Ekeren said.

This won’t be the first time the Good Samaritan Society has conducted mass testing of residents.

“We just recently did this in the state of New Mexico, so some lessons that we’ve learned there we are able to apply to South Dakota,” Good Samaritan VP of Nursing & Clinical Services Rochelle Rindels said.

Some of the testing will take place room-to-room. There will also be designated areas within the facilities, and even testing outdoors!

“We have set up a tent in a parking lot, like the drive-through testing sites that are set up in different cities across the nation. It is an option, just to reduce risk of transmission while we’re collecting that specimen,” Rindels said.

Conducting so many tests in just a matter of weeks is an ambitious undertaking, but one health care workers say is necessary to protect some of the most vulnerable people in South Dakota.

The goal is to have the top six counties of COVID-19 spread, including Minnehaha and Lincoln counties, finished by the end of next week.

Residents do have the option to decline being tested.

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