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Second DCHD location means more COVID testing opportunities

By Colleen Lehmann, DCHD Public Health Liaison 
A second office location for Douglas County Health Department at Tuscola Outlet Mall means now it’s easier and more convenient than ever to be tested for COVID-19. 

With the move to J600—between Old Navy and Vanity Fair—having officially taken place on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, DCHD will now be conducting COVID testing by appointment four days a week instead of one. Previously, Tuesday was the only day you could get a test at the DCHD main location at 1250 U.S. Highway 36. All COVID testing will now be done by appointment at J600, Mondays-Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Process:
To make your appointment for a drive-up test, call the DCHD COVID-19 Hotline 1-801-997-0019 and press 1. A DCHD staff member will ask you a few questions before giving you an appointment time for your drive-up, no-contact test. Be sure to bring a mask or other face covering, ID card, and insurance or Medicaid card with you. Your insurance company will be billed by Carle lab, but if you are uninsured, grant funding (as long as it’s available) will cover the cost of testing.  

You will drive up to the designated parking spot directly in front of J600 and call the office again to announce your arrival. A DCHD staffer will come out to your vehicle and, after getting brief paperwork signed, hand you a sterile nasal swab so you can self-collect your sample. If the patient is a child and the parent does not feel comfortable collecting the sample, the DCHD staffer will do the honors. The same holds true for any adults not wanting to do their own swab. 

Once the swab is completed, DCHD will carefully contain the sample and deliver it to a collection site for processing. Results are typically made available to DCHD in 24 to 48 hours, but be aware the patient sometimes receives results before the health department is notified. DCHD will notify patients of their results once known, along with any additional instructions needed in the event of a positive test outcome. 

Why Two Locations?
Why a second DCHD location, and why only for a temporary time? Thank—or perhaps more accurately, blame—the coronavirus pandemic for that. Grant monies became available for health departments to deal with the burgeoning challenge of COVID-19 response. Setting up a temporary extension office allows DCHD to offer increased testing, and house additional staff hired for COVID-related activities, including contact tracers and public health liaisons. 

Another advantage of a second location is that if, in the unfortunate event a COVID outbreak were to happen at one office, there would be unaffected staff at the other site to keep DCHD operations running smoothly. To that end, there is some nursing staff, an administrator, and an IT person also housed at the J600 location. The original site at 1250 E. Highway 36 is still home to the dental clinic, WIC, nursing staff, environmental health, emergency preparedness, and outreach coordination. That office phone number remains 217-253-4137.

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