Testing Options for COVID-19
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Testing Options for COVID-19

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the safety of our staff and patients in regards to COVID-19 has been the top priority at SVMC. Safety has governed every decision we make. Without healthy nurses and doctors, and without listening to their needs, the organization cannot provide care to patients and fulfill our mission to the community. Providing a safe environment has allowed us to focus our energy on key elements of emergency preparedness, including testing for the virus and preparing to receive and administer a vaccine over the next several months. Below is a brief, simplified update on where the community stands with COVID-19 testing at the moment. Next week, I will do the same for COVID-19 vaccine.

The CDC website has excellent descriptions on the various types of testing for COVID-19, and I will not repeat those here. What is foremost in people’s minds is a simple list of questions: when should I get a test, where can I get a test, how much will it cost, and when do I get my results? 

As cases have increased, the recommendations regarding who should be tested have changed. People who meet the following criteria should be tested: 

  • Close contacts with a positive case. These include those who share a household or worksite with a positive person, and those who have attended an event with that person. Close contacts should be tested immediately and again after 7 days. 
  • Anyone who plans to participate in a gathering/event.
  • Anyone who has attended a gather/event.
  • Anyone who travelled out of state.
  • Anyone who has a visitor from out-of-state.
  • College students returning to Vermont.

Early on in the pandemic, the resources involved in testing were scarce, including the materials to collect the samples as well as the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) worn by staff taking the samples. Furthermore, the testing itself took many days to process and get results. Our staff were quick to implement drive-through testing to help alleviate some of these concerns. In fact, SVMC was among the first in New England to do so. We also were the first in the state to begin texting and emailing results to individuals undergoing testing. Barriers remained, however, and the time from collecting the specimens from your nose until the time you received results was as long as 4 or 5 days. 

We know that timely access to rapid, inexpensive, accurate testing is critical to curtailing the number of people falling ill to the disease. And today, we are in a much better position than previously. Innovative testing strategies have been implemented over the past several weeks at SVMC, and more will follow over the next 14 days. A person can now get a PCR test at two locations in Bennington through joint efforts by SVMC, Bennington Rescue Squad, and The Vermont Department of Health. The tables below detail the relevant information, including how to schedule a test, where to go, and how to receive results. The good news: turn-around times have been reduced to generally 36 hours or less. The even better news is that new equipment at SVMC will soon shorten the turn-around time to the same day. Please check the hospital website frequently, as we will update the table with new information as soon as it is available.

 

SVMC Drive-Up Testing

Test Collection Location: SVMC Front Entrance

Testing Hours: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday – Friday,
1 – 3 p.m. Saturday

Test Scheduling: Provider calls SVMC lab 802-447-5344; Patient call COVID-19 Hotline 802-440-8844 and an order will be placed if the patient meets criteria for testing

Cost: Billed to insurance, no copay (Otherwise, $135 out of pocket)

Result Notification: Provided by text, e-mail, patient portal, and to the primary care provider who ordered the test

Test Turn-Around Time: Typically 48 hours, although may take longer during periods of high volume

 

State of Vermont Testing

Test Collection Location: Bennington Rescue Squad

Testing Hours: 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. Monday,
9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Tuesday – Sunday

Test Scheduling: Patients sign on the Vermont Department of Health Portal https://vermont.force.com/events/s/selfregistration

Cost: Billed to insurance or free

Result Notification: Email, text, or on the Vermont Department of Health portal

Test Turn-Around Time: Typically 24 – 36 hours, although may take longer during periods of high volume

 

The next phase, vaccination, is the key in ending the pandemic and will be underway shortly. In the meantime, over the next several months, our doctors and nurses will continue to work tirelessly to improve what we can for our community. We know you will continue efforts to follow the national and state guidelines to limit the spread of the virus. And we thank you.

Trey Dobson, MD, is the chief medical officer of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center.

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