MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota has done nearly 100,000 tests for COVID-19, but now an innovative way to get tested should keep health care workers safer than ever before.

What was once simply a place to park, is now on the front line to a worldwide pandemic. M Health Fairview is a full-on COVID operation.

Molly Lendmeyer has been working in the trenches, but now she’s working in a box. Or, rather, a booth.

“This is unprecedented like this, and crazy,” she said. “It’s different, because it is a first experience, when I’ve been in a box and not out face-to-face communicating.”

A mechanical engineering professor at the University of Minnesota came up with the design, and it got clinic leaders excited.

“It was a game-changer on two fronts. It kept everybody safe, and it saved PPE,” Steven Endrud, vice-president of operations with M Health.

The new booths have air filters safer than any mask. The health care workers only need to wear one pair of gloves per shift, saving thousand of PPE units a day. Furthermore, because there’s no need to constantly change PPE, they can now see 24 patients an hour instead of 12.

One of the first patients to experience the testing was new mother and cancer survivor Adrienne Krautkramer, who had been experiencing a sore throat.

“It seemed to work great. She could just go in and do what she needed to do. So it was different but I think it worked,” she said.

It’s working for the staffers too, protecting them so they can protect others.

“We are just wanting to keep everyone safe, and everyone came into this role because we care about people,” Lendmeyer said.

Twelve testing booths will soon be spread across M Health Fairview’s eight testing sites.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield