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What the transition of St. Luke's COVID testing facility has been like

Posted at 10:52 PM, Dec 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-15 09:47:21-05

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — After months of discussions, St. Luke's Magic Valley moves its primary COVID-19 testing facility. Plans to move the facility from the main campus to St. Luke's Renaissance Business Park started to come together in mid-August.

The move to College Road means the test site is now a more reliable, long-term facility for patients seeking a COVID test. It also means testing is now indoors as winter sets in and flu season kicks off.

"We're gearing up for flu season right now, and it's really important to move the testing clinic over to the new location so that our quick care clinic and our primary care clinic in the hospital are able to fully be open and see patients," says David Pepper, St. Luke's Primary Care Services Director of Operations.

So far, the transition has been smooth as test numbers have dropped. Officials say it's likely because the site opened just last week, but testing is expected to pick up as Christmas and New Year's are around the corner.

"I would expect to see additional spread, not even just COVID but other communicable diseases, and so I would anticipate that we'll have a higher need for testing services, especially with people now hearing about the new location," said Pepper.

St. Luke's has consistently struggled with staffing numbers for the test site over the last few months. The site has a core team to administer tests, and there's some flexibility to bring in other nurses to lend a hand.

"The testing clinic, in particular, hasn't been quite as impacted as other areas because we do have a little bit more broad range of people that we can pull in to support the work as opposed to an ICU which is going to be a bit more niche and requires a higher level of training," Pepper explains.

Testing is available seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Appointments must be scheduled in advance.