Local Health Systems Work to Expedite COVID-19 Testing in Lauderdale County

Healthcare worker in PPE interacting with driver.
DATE POSTED: April 2, 2020

Fighting the spread of an infection like the novel coronavirus takes action on many fronts. Anderson Regional Health System and Rush Health Systems are working in conjunction with Lauderdale County and the City of Meridian to fight the spread of COVID-19. With the support of city and county officials, the health systems have a plan in place that they have been operating for over two weeks.

“Lauderdale County is committed to providing the support our health systems need.” said Kyle Rutledge, President of the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors.

“We strongly encourage residents to follow instructions from our local health systems when seeking care for suspected COVID-19 cases,” added Percy Bland, Mayor of the City of Meridian.

One of the main reasons Lauderdale County has seen a spike in positive patients in the past few days is due to recently increased testing capability. This is a public health crisis, and typically a health system would look to the state to provide resources. However, the majority of Mississippi State Department of Health’s resources were appropriately directed to other areas of our state that were considered hot spots early in this process. Administrators from both Anderson and Rush quickly realized the need to make other accommodations for testing and pursued agreements with private labs in an attempt to receive faster test results in preparation the onset of COVID-19 in our area.

Both health systems began testing individuals who met the screening criteria for COVID-19 in mid-March. The hospitals have tested nearly 400 people for COVID-19 since that time.

“The reality is that we have received limited testing supplies from the state and our vendors,” said Dr. Fred Duggan, Chief Medical Officer for Rush Health Systems. “In the coming weeks, we hope to be able to do point of care tests which will slash the wait time for test results.”

Dr. Keith Everett, Chief Medical Officer for Anderson Regional Health System added, “We continue to test suspected patients based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Working with our private lab vendor to increase the availability of test kits has significantly improved our testing capacity, with point of care testing being the ultimate goal.”

In addition to the state’s one day testing site, both health systems will continue to operate testing sites at their respective locations to effectively utilize staff and preserve limited resources such as personal protective equipment. Testing sites at both Rush and Anderson are being operated in conjunction with hotlines manned by healthcare professionals who are screening callers for symptoms. Individuals who meet the criteria are given an appointment for testing. This has proven to be an effective way to identify possible COVID-19 patients and test the appropriate individuals. Neither health system is offering walk-in testing for non-emergent patients who have not reserved an appointment slot.

If you have symptoms or concerns, please contact the Rush COVID-19 Hotline at 601-703-9913 or the Anderson COVID-19 Hotline at 601-553-7888.