Voluntary testing of essential folks begins April 13 in Friday Harbor

Message from Dr. William F. House about voluntary testing beginning April 13, 2020 for essential workers/volunteers on San Juan Island.

Eventide Health will begin voluntary testing for Essential employees and volunteers, who provide essential functions in our community, as defined by the Governor of the State of Washington beginning tomorrow, Monday, April 13. We have developed a list of volunteers already for a diverse group of essential services providers from around the community.

We have discussed this plan with Dr. Frank James, Health Officer for San Juan County and it has been approved by officials at the Washington State Department of Health, who condition the testing in two ways.

First that the testing be limited to those providing Essential Services in our community. 

Second that all testing will be done in labs that have excess capacity after all tests done for symptomatic patients have been completed.

The testing will be limited to 200 individuals at this time and will be an effort to provide important information about the frequency of asymptomatic infections and specifically how common these infections are in essential service providers who have significant interactions with others in the community.

We would ask that the community hold off on calling our clinic to arrange for any testing outside of the current prioritized list of testing for symptomatic patients. Those with suspected active infections due to the presence of symptoms of COVID19 (fever of 100.4 or higher AND respiratory symptoms of cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing) are invited to continue to call our office for telemedicine discussion or on-going parking lot testing as appropriate.

This wave of testing will happen at different two locations in Friday Harbor. Volunteers selected for this project will be instructed when and where to present for testing. VOLUNTEERS WILL PLEASE STAY IN YOUR VEHICLE FOR TESTING.

Please note - this testing will focus on ASYMPTOMATIC frontline workers and volunteers that could be spreading the virus without knowing to the community.

This testing is not about excluding anyone; it’s about working within the public health system to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We’ve put a massive amount of work into this and appreciate the patience and support of all of those connected and involved.

Once this phase is complete we will continue to evaluate for broader testing as appropriate. We have begun work over the past few weeks on acquiring antibody testing as well. Antibody testing will allow assessment for those who has already had the virus (whether they were symptomatic or not) and will hopefully have high likelihood for immunity. Most experts agree that this type of testing is our path forward to potentially reopening businesses and finding normalcy again.

Thank you to the community and all of those that have partnered with us in this endeavor. As a small private practice, we literally couldn’t do it without you.

I want to extend a very special offering of gratitude to our staff at Eventide Health. Your ability to adapt over the past few weeks has been incredible to watch and to be a part of. I can’t imagine a better group to face challenges with.

- William F. House, MD 

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