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In response to delays, Lakeland Regional Health to run more COVID-19 tests on-site

Polk County

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – Daunting delays in test results pushed Polk County’s largest hospital to start doing more COVID-19 testing onsite.

Starting Wednesday, Lakeland Regional Health began running coronavirus tests for symptomatic patients from its Respiratory Care Center.

The Respiratory Care Center was born out of the pandemic as a place for people to meet with a doctor and get a coronavirus test.

Since April, it has used Quest Diagnostics for testing.

“We have seen, unfortunately, a delay, a significant delay, in the reporting of a lot of that testing. Of course, that creates a lot of anxiety for our patients,” said Ana Kalman, the vice president, chief information officer/chief applications officer and medical center chief operating officer at Lakeland Regional Health.

Results were taking up to 12 days, Kalman said, a timeline some patients feel renders the results useless.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management recently announced it was taking a step back from Quest Diagnostics.

“[Patients would] like to know – do I have COVID or do I not? So with this population, it allows us to give them a faster turnaround time on that answer,” said Maureen Leckie, the associate vice president of Ambulatory Operations at LRH.

This week, patients with coronavirus symptoms can set up an appointment at the Respiratory Care Center (863-284-5000) and get that coveted COVID test.

The hospital bills insurance for the visit.

“They’re going to be brought over to the hospital, and we have our laboratory scientists that will be performing this test. So they’ll be performed on-site in the medical center,” Leckie said.

Results, the hospital leaders said, will be available the next day.

People without symptoms who think they may have been exposed, can get an appointment at the drive-thru testing site.

Other testing sites in Polk County can be found here.

The hospital also runs same-day tests on-site for patients with emergency procedures and similar situations.

Supplies of those tests are limited.

“We’ve been focused on inpatients and most critical patients for sure, the first responders, we are continuously prioritizing the patients and the services we provide and the resources that we have,” Kalman said.

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