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Palm Coast Thursday, May 14, 2020 9 months ago

Testing turnaround times should improve soon; plus, all clear at two Flagler nursing homes

Bob Snyder, DOH-Flagler administrator, shares four key indicators.
by: Brian McMillan Executive Editor

Updated 12:17 p.m. May 15

Two-week turnaround times for results of COVID-19 tests have frustrated many Flagler County residents, but anyone getting a test on Monday, May 18, and beyond, should only have to wait four days, as Flagler County’s testing site at Daytona State College shifts from AdventHealth’s lab to Quest Diagnostics, Bob Snyder said.

Snyder, Department of Health-Flagler administrator, said on May 14 that AdventHealth’s processing lab in Texas is “overwhelmed” with tests pouring in from around the country, causing long delays. The lab no longer even provides an estimate of when the results will be available.

Testing will be processed by a local lab, Diagnostic Solutions, on Monday, May 18; and Quest will take over on Tuesday, May 19, with a four-day turnaround, Snyder said.

The DSC site still takes appointments for testing, which is available for any resident showing any symptom of COVID-19: cough, fever, chills, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, muscle pain, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell. Call 313-4200. Or, contact your primary care physician. Demand for testing at the DSC site has decreased, according to Emergency Management Chief Jonathan Lord, so days will be limited.

In addition, to help people get their test results faster, DOH's Gretchen Smith will be tasked to make sure everyone who gets a negative test is informed by a phone call. The DOH will be notified first of any positive tests so they can begin the contact tracing process.


In other testing news ...


Testing at nursing homes

All 180 staff members and 126 residents of two nursing homes in Flagler County — Market Street Memory Care and Flagler Health and Rehabilitation — tested negative for COVID-19 last week. Tests at those facilities were voluntary; tests at the others in the county will be mandatory, based on a state order issued May 11.

On Tuesday, May 19, incident management teams comprising paramedics, nurses and National Guard members will begin testing all residents and staff at Grand Oaks Rehabilitation Center, Brookdale, Tuscan Gardens, Princeton Village and The Windsor. More will be added to the list.

The 100% negative tests at Market Street and Flagler Health and Rehab were encouraging to Snyder. “We couldn’t be happier about that,” he said.

"There is no other place or any other team I would want to be fighting this COVID-19 war with," Janell Dunn, executive director at Market Street, said in an email. "Our staff have complied and have taken the daily roller-coaster ride of new orders and changes so frequent like champs. A bright side to the coronavirus is seeing everyone come together. It has been very touching to see associates looking out for each other and their families."

Christine Singura McGrath, community relations director at Market Street. File photo

Deanna Nichols, director of nursing at Market Street, added: "We know this is just the beginning, and the hard work doesn’t stop here. We want to thank the Flagler County Health Department and our community for their continued support."

Christine Singura McGrath, community relations director at Market Street, also praised the leadership team for their "countless hours of hard work placed each day to care for every resident."


Key indicators

Snyder said he looks at four key indicators when he evaluates the present and future of COVID-19 in Flagler County.

First, he looks at the percentage of positive cases. Recently, that has been low. On May 12, the Florida Department of Health reported 13 negative COVID-19 tests and zero positives. That was the fifth out of the past six days with zero negative tests; there was one positive on May 11 out of 35 tests.

Second, Snyder said he looks at the emergency department visits with flu-like symptoms.

Third, he looks at ED visits with COVID-19-like symptoms. Both of those indicators went down on the week ending May 3, after an uptick the week before.

Fourth, he looks at the number of current hospitalizations in Flagler County. The cumulative total is 16, and four have died. But as of May 13, there was only one person in the hospital with COVID-19. The number of current hospitalizations is not disseminated by the DOH at the state level, but he said he didn’t see why it shouldn’t be, so he shared it with the Palm Coast Observer, as he does sometimes on “Free For All Friday” on WNZF.

Brian McMillan has been editor of the Palm Coast Observer since it began in 2010. He was named the Journalist of the Year for weekly newspapers in North America by the Local Media Association in 2012. He lives in Palm Coast with his wife and five children. Email...

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