SIUE, as well as many other locations in the area, is offering COVID-19 testing, each with different testing methods and requirements.
SIUE announced last Thursday it would be offering free COVID-19 screening tests through Health Service beginning the first week of classes. Students can schedule an appointment online for a nasal swab test if they would like to confirm their status. They should receive results in 72 hours.
Medical Chief Dr. Kelly Farroll said screening is only for people who do not have symptoms and have not had direct contact with a case.
“Currently the university is offering to faculty, staff and students a screening test. That means they are not having any symptoms and don’t believe they have encountered an exposure to COVID,” Farroll said. “If someone believes they are having symptoms or that they have had a close contact or exposure, then we are asking them to identify themselves differently so that the testing site would be different.”
The CDC defines “close contact” as being within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes. Those who believe they have been exposed or are experiencing symptoms can make a Zoom appointment with Health Service to determine next steps and check if they have any additional medical issues to address. They are also required to fill out the self-reporting form online.
Another location offering testing free of cost is Anderson Hospital in Maryville, Illinois. The drive-thru testing site is a few blocks away from the hospital in an old bank building Anderson owns.
Director of Care Coordination and Specialized Nursing Services Andrea Burns said they are doing an oral swab test and can get results out in 24 to 48 hours.
“We are doing an oral swab there, so that swab is just like a strep throat swab,” Burns said. “We’re fortunate we have a machine in-house to read it so we’re able to get results out in about 24 to 48 hours back to the physician that ordered the test.”
Those looking to get tested at Anderson only need a doctor’s referral and to schedule an appointment. There is no symptom or exposure requirement and the doctor who ordered the test will tell the patient their results.
Burns said the CDC is unsure of the oral swab’s accuracy rates, but Burns said they show the same results as nasal swabs.
“The CDC is still kind of contesting accuracy rates of the point of care, the nasal and the oral swabs,” Burns said. “We’ve done several comparison swabs here and they have been a hundred percent, but overall I don’t know what they would say.”
SIHF Healthcare also has multiple testing locations in the Metro East area. One of their fixed locations is in Wood River, Illinois. They also have mobile testing sites in Madison and St. Clair Counties.
Those looking to get tested through SIHF need to go through a short phone screening process and can schedule an appointment that afternoon or the next day.
Corporate Director of Communication and Development Planning at SIHF Steve Tomaszewski said the test method can vary depending on the day and what lab they are using.
“It can vary by when you’re coming and where we’re sending the swabs. We had to switch labs where we do the processing,” Tomaszewski said. “I believe we were doing the nasal swabs originally, then we switched to oral because we had a change in labs. I don’t want to promise that it will be oral next time because we may switch back to the nasal depending on which suppliers we have available and to which lab it’s going.”
They are collecting insurance information if the patient has it, but there will be no cost, even if they are uninsured. Test results should be received in two to four days.
Burns said people need to quarantine while they are waiting for their test results.
“It’s essential that while they’re waiting for their results they should quarantine, which really means stay in a setting not around people, wear a mask at all times, and definitely be careful of sharing drinks and utensils or sink spaces,” Burns said. “If they are positive, the CDC requires they are quarantined for 10 days after symptoms have started unless the symptoms like fever continue and they need to quarantine even longer.”
Director of Health Services Riane Greenwalt urges students to become familiar with the resources on SIUE’s COVID-19 website.
“I just want to encourage everyone to use all the information that’s available on the COVID website at the university,” Greenwalt said. “It outlines several campus messages, the university’s plan and policy, a training video that we’ve created and health reporting and testing, which is very important and then the resources that are available to everyone.“
More information about COVID-19 testing locations can be found on the Madison County Health Department’s website.