No, I’m not sick or symptomatic or high risk or any of those things. As some of you know, after six years working home health, I recently transitioned to a long term care and skilled nursing setting. Governmental changes made testing mandatory for all providers, staff, and volunteers in these settings. I’m not going to comment on the personal factors and feelings toward mandatory testing, and for good reason: It’s mandatory. It doesn’t matter what my feelings are. If I want to work, I will be tested. The same goes for TB, and I get tested for that yearly. So today, I was tested for COVID-19. I’m sure many of you are going to be tested soon, or maybe you already have been! But here are some things I can explain and clear up for you based on my experience.
There is some paperwork. Ha! Is that a surprise??? Like all medicine and healthcare, there is plenty of paperwork to go around. I signed three different consent forms prior to being tested. Nothing was out of the ordinary, just standard language about HIPAA stuff, who is performing the testing, how the samples will be handled, when and how you will be notified of results… And then, you know, the standard informed consent stuff we give to all our own patients such as symptom descriptions, when to contact your doctor, possible side effects of testing…
It doesn’t hurt. Speaking of side effects… I know, lots of people are out there saying they feel like they are having their brains swabbed. But, I can tell you from experience now that it is not painful. It feels more like you have a righteous sneeze coming on. I mean, they are tickling the inside of your nasal passages with a tiny plastic brush so that’s really not surprising. Maybe, if you are super sensitive, you may get mild discomfort for 10 seconds, but I can’t imagine anything other than that. (Exceptions for those who are tested often due to frequent exposures. I feel like that could get really annoying.)
They swab both sides. That tiny little plastic brush will go up both sides of your nose so your nasal passages will be thoroughly and equally tickled. They brush really is tiny. Nothing crazy. It looks like the same one my pediatrician uses to test my kids for the flu.
Everything is super clean. As you can see in the pictures, everything is individually packaged in sanitized packaging, bleach wipes are there, hand sanitizer is used… These testers came fully equipped with gowns, shoe covers, gloves, body suits, shields, and N95s. They probably had more PPE between the 5 of them than some clinics I’ve been to. They were testing many of us today, so they definitely came prepared.
It is fast. I was in and out in less than 10 minutes and that included a quick stop to chat with my boss and a coworker, as well as time to fill out the paperwork and get my screening temperature taken. The actual test was less than 30 seconds. This really couldn’t be easier. You just have to stand there.
Results take three days. So now that testing is over, the suspense begins. I get to just sit back and wait. I’m not worried, like I said, I’m not symptomatic. I’m actually glad to be tested because the last thing I’d want is to be an asymptomatic carrier and be working with and around this vulnerable population. We take plenty of precautions but there is no point in putting anyone in a situation where they are at increased risk if you don’t have to.
Depending on the regulations, how things change, and facility policy, testing may have to happen every 14 days or more (or less???) to ensure we remain safe to work with the geriatric population in these types of facilities. My job is to do no harm, to keep people safe, and to improve their function. Getting tested for COVID-19 is part of that package.
I will be interested to see if and when other settings will mandate COVID-19 testing. I could really see it in the home health arena due to exposure risk and just reassuring patients you are safe to enter their homes if they are self-isolating for health reasons.
UPDATE: My results came back (-)
How was your COVID-19 testing experience? Tell me about it in the comments!
Follow my blog for more!
Follow @DoctorBthePT on Twitter for regular updates!