Patients express frustration over long wait times for COVID-19 testing results

A laboratory technician prepares COVID-19 patient samples for semi-automatic testing at Northwell Health Labs, Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Lake Success, N.Y. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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COLUMBUS (WBNS) - Patients who participated in an online unscientific survey tell 10 Investigates they are frustrated by the length of time it takes to get results of COVID-19 testing.

As of Monday, there were 4,450 positive cases of the coronavirus in Ohio with 1214 hospitalizations and 142 deaths.

But those figures are based on limited testing.

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Of the nearly three dozen people who participated in 10 Investigates’ online survey last week asking about patient testing experiences, nearly all of them complained about waiting for test results anywhere between 7 to 14 days.

Governor Mike DeWine has said that is “unacceptable.”

Part of the problem has been blamed on private labs which were the initial sources of testing. LabCorp is one of two private labs along with Quest Diagnostics that have tested samples from Ohio patients.

10 Investigates reported last week on at least a dozen patients who were tested at the OSU East hospital who had to be re-tested because their samples couldn’t be processed by LabCorp. LabCorp has not addressed our questions related to the matter.

On its website Sunday, LabCorp posted a statement saying that it has completed testing on nearly 500,000 samples since March 5 and has increased its capacity to test for between 35,000 to 40,000 tests per day.

While the company has not yet responded to 10 Investigates’ direct questions, it did acknowledge that “we know that there is more that needs to be done.”

One big problem with a lack of immediate results has been the frustration and uncertainty that comes with not knowing if you have COVID-19.

That was the case for Kayla Legg, who says her 2-year old daughter, Chloe, has a heart defect. Chloe was battling pneumonia in March when she developed a high fever. That spurred fears in Kayla who got her daughter tested at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Kayla Legg says it took 11 days to get her daughter’s test result – which was negative.

But that meant there were 11 days when Kayla and her family had to quarantine. She didn’t let the children play outside – even on nice days. And that meant Kayla couldn’t go to work as she cared for her young daughter.

“It’s very stressful for us knowing that she had to be quarantined knowing that she was doing better and not knowing the results,” Kayla Legg said during an interview Monday.
“I can say she’s doing great today.”

Paul Verdier had a very different testing experience.

“I had a fever, body aches, chills and that kind of thing,” Verdier said. He has asthma and was able to get tested near the Ohio State University Medical Wexner Center last Friday. He had his results in about 9 hours.

He was negative.

When informed he was the only person we heard from who had a positive testing experience, Verdier said: “that surprised me to hear you say that because it was super easy. Everything was very smooth.”

So why such a major difference?

It could come down to when people are tested. Verdier was tested last week – after March 26 – that’s when Ohio State hospitals started conducting their own in-house testing, avoiding the need to lean on private labs.

And last Wednesday, Ohio state health director Dr. Amy Acton signed another public health order requiring that hospitals that can’t conduct their own coronavirus testing send their samples to hospitals that can or the Ohio Department of Health.

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Coronavirus: What you need to know

There are now 31,625 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio; 1,888 people have died from the virus and 5,773 were hospitalized, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Breakdown of Ohio cases by county >>

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

10TV is committed to bringing you a FACTS NOT FEAR approach to our coronavirus reporting. You can count on 10TV to give you the latest developments and the impacts on you and your family. For complete coverage, visit: 10TV.com/coronavirus.

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