On Saturday, Oct. 24, the Mayo Clinic opened an indoor COVID-19 testing center at 700 W. Prairie St. in Belle Plaine. The testing center was originally a drive-thru site in New Prague but was moved to Belle Plaine to provide a more central location for patients traveling from south metro areas and to protect patients and staff from the winter weather.
“I know that it can be frightening to bring a testing site into town, but increased testing is the best way to prevent this disease,” said Mayo Clinic Physician Dr. Jason Post.
Patients must be referred to the testing site by their primary care provider or by the COVID-19 nurse line. When patients are given an appointment, they receive explicit quarantine instructions. Patients are told they should not go out in public, use public restrooms, or go inside public buildings.
“We would not expect that we will be having those patients coming into those public spaces,” he said.
When patients arrive at the testing center, there are signs directing them where to go. The actual testing location is separate from the Family Medicine clinic space. Those waiting for their tests are asked to stay in their cars. They will be called or texted when they are allowed to enter the building.
“The whole process should take 10 minutes or so from the time they enter the building to the time they are out of there,” said Dr. Post.
After their test, patients are told to go directly home. They will get their results through an online portal or a phone call within 24 to 72 hours. With insurance coverage and funding from the CARES Act, patients will not have to pay for their test out of pocket.
Currently, COVID-19 cases are rising in Belle Plaine, as they are across the state and region. A small part of that could be attributed to the new testing center, meaning more Belle Plaine residents are likely to get tested with a convenient location in Belle Plaine.
“There is always some truth to the fact that when we are testing more asymptomatic patients, the numbers are going to go up. We also know that is a good thing because we want to identify those asymptomatic patients because that limits our spread of COVID,” he said.
However, that’s just one part of a much bigger equation.
“We know that across the state and the region we are having significant climbing in the rates of COVID. Certainly some part of that is due to increased testing, but a lot of that is due to rising spread in the disease across our region,” he said.
Mayo Clinic does not release data regarding specific testing sites as far as the number of patients tested and the percentage of positive cases.