Tent signals testing for those who meet criteria

The Chautauqua Center in Dunkirk and Jamestown is running low on personal protective equipment, but not test kits for COVID-19. OBSERVER Photo.

Amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, The Chautauqua Center is doing its part in fighting the spread of the virus throughout the county. Located in Dunkirk and Jamestown, the Center has begun its screenings for the highly contagious coronavirus by following a protocol set in place by the Chautauqua County Department of Health.

Individuals who are already patients at the center or have been referred to by other health care organizations have been screened for COVID-19.

In order to receive screening, recipients must fit this criteria: you have already been tested for influenza and other upper respiratory viruses; those tests then came back negative and that person fits into the highly vulnerable or at risk group.

Once an individual checks all of those boxes, they will still have to go through the approval process to receive the screening.

After receiving approval, a time will then be scheduled for a screening that will take place off site.

Michael Pease, Chautauqua Center chief executive officer, told the OBSERVER on Thursday, “We have screened well over 100 people. … We’ll finish up testing (today).

“If we’re not out of it (testing supplies) we’ll be really short on it.”

The screening location is done off site in an effort to prevent the potential spread and contamination of the main Chautauqua Center location.

“The testing takes place in a tented area where they stay in their vehicle,” said Sarah Gilbert, spokeswoman for The Chautauqua Center. “The process involves a scheduled time, you need to have been in touch with your doctor and received an order that you bring on site.”

The testing is not a free for all so anyone can show up at the site when driving by and noticing the test site. Due to limited screening supplies, it is paramount that people go through the appropriate process to determine if it is necessary to even be tested.

While COVID-19 test kits are at a premium worldwide, The Chautauqua Center said it currently had enough tests to get through today for those already scheduled. The number of test kits distributed throughout the county has been determined by the county Health Department and, according to Pease, they have ordered more supplies and he is hopeful they’ll be getting them soon.

Though testing kits are on site, personal protective equipment remains in short supply. According to Gilbert, The Chautauqua Center has enough gear to keep everyone involved in testing safe, but those supplies will continue to diminish as time goes on.

“We are similar to everyone else that we are experiencing a shortage of the personal protective equipment,” she said. “Currently we have enough to keep staff and patients safe, it’s more planning for the weeks to come.”

Personal protective equipment, such as gloves and masks, are essential in keeping both the tester and patients safe, but the safety does not end there. Gilbert said The Chautauqua Center has instructed its providers to counsel people after the test to stay isolated until they receive the results.

Pease added that the results of tests are only shared between the health care provider and their patient as to not violate patient confidentiality. What Pease does know is that none of The Chautauqua Center’s patients have tested positive.


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