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First Covid-19 test run locally

By Tracy R. Mesler
© 2020 The Nocona News
Nocona General Hospital tested its first potential Covid-19 patient Thursday and should have results back by late Friday afternoon. In the meantime, the patient is under self-quarantine as per federal guidelines.
NGH CEO Lance Meekins said his staff had been working on implementing protocols as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.
Explaining that the CDC has issued a specific set of screening questions to ask individuals fearful of having contracted the infectious disease Meekins noted early Thursday evening, “We did have a patient present who met the criteria. We drew samples and sent them to a lab in Fort Worth and they will be tested tomorrow (Friday).”
It is Meekins’ understanding the state labs capable of testing for the Covid-19 infection “are batching specimens” and running groups of tests at the same time.
“My understanding, and of course this is subject to change, is they will run the tests at noon tomorrow, and we should have results in four to five hours,” the hospital administrator stated. “At least that was what I was told.”
“Right now, and the patient isn’t even from Montague County, is self-quarantining, which is what the CDC recommends until we have a positive test result,” Meekins said.
“We are putting protocols into place to test those who meet the criteria,” he said.
“We have to get approval from the Texas Department of Health Services to pull a sample to run a test,” Meekins elaborated. “If someone comes in and says they’d like to be tested, we can’t just run it because they are worried. They have to meet the criteria,” he said providing a copy of the criteria for The Nocona News to share on social media.
“If you suspect you may be exhibiting symptoms of the Corona virus DON’T show up at the clinic or ER!” Meekins emphatically stated. “Call ahead. The nurses will work you through the questionnaire.”
If health care officials feel a patient needs to be tested, the current NGH protocols are for the patient to drive to the clinic, remain in their car and call the clinic, and medical personnel will test them “while they remain inside their vehicle.”
Meekins said the urgency is if a patient has the virus, they do not want to inadvertently infect others in the clinic or the emergency room, hence the strong request that patients “Call first!”
“Right now, the questionnaire leans strongly on travel – but that’s subject to change,” Meekins quickly conceded. As people in the United States become exposed and infected by others in the United States the hospital administrator fully expects the CDC to revise its screening protocols.
Meekins said the hospital would update information via their Facebook page and other social media venues as they have it.

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