Area hospitals urging alternative testing resources to avoid busy care sites

(ABC 6 News) – Area hospitals are advising individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to seek alternative testing options.

In a release Friday, officials said MercyOne locations continue to be critically impacted by increased patient volumes.

At Mayo Clinic, health experts are reminding individuals to not to go to the emergency department for testing. Emergency departments are for patients with life-threatening health care needs.

"Emergency departments are an important part of the overall health care system," says Dr. Laura Walker, an Mayo Clinic emergency medicine physician. "Our primary care and dedicated COVID-19 testing sites are also an important aspect. As an emergency physician, I need to be able to quickly see patients with emergency conditions ? like strokes, heart attacks, injuries and severe illness ? where time is of the essence. Conditions that can be cared for in the clinic setting or the outpatient testing centers for COVID-19 are best done there. We have put together incredible resources so patients can schedule their COVID-19 tests and quickly get them taken care of."

For those experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and need to be tested using a lab-based polymerase chain reaction test, or PCR, check your local state health department’s website for COVID-19 testing options.

  • If you have been exposed and/or experiencing mild symptoms, start with an at-home test from your local pharmacy or a FREE test at Test Iowa locations.
  • If you are experiencing symptoms that require treatment, contact your family doctor’s office.
  • Wear a mask, even if you are vaccinated. Continue frequent handwashing and avoid large gatherings.
  • Make sure you’re up to date on all your vaccinations, including your booster if eligible. Flu shots can be received at the same time as a primary COVID shot or booster.
  • If you have tested positive for COVID-19, please follow the guidelines of isolation for five days or until you are feeling better.

Officials said minimizing the spread of illness is crucial. Please follow safe health practices to relieve stress on you and your health care system.