A behind-the-scenes look at Covid testing

Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 5:48 PM EDT
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RANDOLPH, Vt. (WCAX) - As COVID cases continue to surge across the region, rural hospitals like the Gifford Medical Center are playing an even bigger role.

“Being able to test, test quickly, and test lot of people,” said Matthew Clayton, who manages the lab at the Gifford Medical Center. He says they are currently processing about 30 tests a day. The sample is labeled, transferred to a testing container under a negative pressure hood, then analyzed for traces of the virus using specific machines. Results take about an hour.

“As these exposures occur and we are able to do the testing right on that spot and be able to clear people, that is going to help us move out of this pandemic,” Clayton said.

Though, at this point, the experts say there is not an end date in sight. “Far from over. This is going to be a wave and cycle that we are going to have to manage,” said Monica Boyd, the medical center’s vice president of quality and compliance.

Drive-through testing to collect the samples has resumed at Gifford as the delta variant spreads throughout the region. Lab tech’s here say it’s a grassroots community-based effort to root out the virus, working with local health care providers and area schools. “I think the rural community hospitals are going to begin to play an even larger role not just with Covid, but with care in general,” Boyd said.

That includes getting people vaccinated. Brent Morrill of Randolph was among those on Wednesday getting his second Pfizer shot at Gifford’s walk-in clinic, which is down the hall from the testing lab. “It’s been a struggle,” he said. Even with access to health care not being an issue, he says he’s not exactly optimistic about the future. “I don’t know what is going to happen. I just think it is going to be something else.”

Anyone can walk in and get a vaccine here, however, the drive-thru testing is by appointment only. That testing will continue for the foreseeable future.

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