MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Gov. Tim Walz is asking Vice President Mike Pence for at least 15,000 tests a month for the new coronavirus (COVID-19).
WCCO spoke with Catherine Vaught Saturday via Facetime, after she spent several hours trying to get tested.
“The symptoms were right in line with what they’re saying for COVID-19, so I didn’t have the aches and chills which were common with influenza, but I had the fever, shortness of breath, cough and sore throat,” Vaught said.
She has quarantined herself in her south Minneapolis home. She reached out to M Health Fairview’s online diagnosis system called OnCare on Friday, filling out a questionnaire.
“The questions of course that I answered were just about my symptoms, and then I did include a note about my recent travel, even though it’s not within the last 14 days, I still thought it was worth mentioning for sure,” she said.
Vaught had traveled to Europe from late January through early February. Within an hour of emailing, Vaught received a message instructing her to get a test done.
“I did get a response saying, you know, ‘Please come in as soon as possible, here are the clinic locations, here are the hours,’” she said.
The next day, Vaught sat alone in her car at the testing center, giving her information to nurses over the phone. She says several patients were there.
“You’re not really in a line. You don’t really know how long you’re going to be waiting,” she said.
But Vaught did not expect to wait as long as she did.
“So I ended up waiting four hours at the Bloomington clinic, and then an hour and a half at the Woodbury clinic,” Vaught said.
Eventually she says she gave up for the day and went home.
“I just can’t sit in the car anymore, you know, I need food, I need Tylenol to manage my fever, and so I did end up leaving and hoping to go back and get tested in the morning,” she said.
Vaught understands that healthcare systems are overwhelmed right now, and she wants others to be prepared for a long wait.
“Yeah, it wasn’t a good feeling,” Vaught said. “I felt sicker by the end of it.”
M Health Fairview gave this statement to WCCO Saturday evening:
Like other health systems in the state, M Health Fairview hospitals and clinics are experiencing a high census due to COVID-19 testing, flu season and increased public awareness of seeking care. Yesterday alone, there were 1,400 visits to our virtual OnCare clinic, compared with 1,055 visits during the entire month of December, our busiest month last year.
While patient privacy laws prevent us from commenting on specific cases or situations, we are working hard to improve the testing process for our patients. Throughout our system, M Health Fairview’s team continues to work to contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19, is properly trained, and is following all standard processes and protocols put forth by the CDC.
M Health Fairview reminds patients to visit with a healthcare provider online or call ahead if they are concerned about their risk of COVID-19.
The M Health Fairview representative WCCO spoke with said every day is different, and every clinic is different when it comes to wait times. It is important people call or email ahead before just going to a clinic.