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Don't go to ER for routine COVID tests, urge Alomere Health leaders

People should coordinate with their local primary provider for testing options.

Alomere Health in Alexandria continues to follow guidelines recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Department of Health.
Echo Press file photo
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ALEXANDRIA – People needing to get tested for COVID-19 should seek out other places other than an emergency room.

That is the message coming from the Minnesota Hospital Association after a high volume of patients have driven up wait times for medical emergencies at several hospitals.

In a recent news release from the association, Kleio Vrohidis, communications coordinator, said, "We have run out of words to describe what we are undergoing – a crisis does not even come close. Hospitals are literally full. We urgently need the public's helps to keep our emergency departments available for medical emergencies."

Dr. Greg Gesell, Emergency Department medical director at Alomere Health in Alexandria, said that as the hospital continues to see large patient volumes and extended wait times for both COVID and non-COVID related emergencies, people shouldn't seek routine COVID testing in the ER.

"We urge the community to seek non-emergent testing if they are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms potentially attributable to COVID. Alomere Health continues to follow guidelines recommended by the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health and would encourage isolation and direct communication with your local primary provider to coordinate the testing."


Greg Gesell

Testing at the Alexandria Clinic, a service of Alomere Health, has continued to rise over the last month. Here's a look at the number of COVID tests performed at the clinic since Dec. 15.

  • Dec. 15 to Dec. 21 – 408
  • Dec. 22 to Dec. 28 – 418
  • Dec. 29 to Jan. 4 – 516
  • Jan. 5 – Jan. 11 – 766

Register Nurse Lori Rosch, director of the Alomere Emergency Department, said that she wants patients to receive the appropriate level of care at the right time and the right location. She added that the Minnesota Department of Health is a great resource to help inform people on testing , which the hospital highly encourages people to use whenever possible before presenting to any level of care.

Lori Rosch

"The Emergency Department at Alomere is here to serve our community 24 hours a day, 365 days a year as we fulfill our mission of our passion and purpose to strengthen and nurture the health and well-being of our family, friends, neighbors and communities, through every season of life," said Rosch.

The Minnesota Hospital Association said the care capacity throughout all of Minnesota is severely limited – ICUs are full, emergency departments are full, medical and surgical units are full, hallways are full and surgeries are being canceled.

"Please do not go to emergency departments or urgent care centers for a COVID-19 test," said Vrohidis in the Minnesota Hospital Association news release. "Seek testing at one of the many state testing sites or use an at-home kit. Please help us keep our emergency department capacity and staff available for medical emergencies."

She also said that hospitals and health systems are working together in real-time to meet the challenges and coordinate resources.

"They are essentially now functioning as one giant system of care to support our joint mission of serving Minnesotan," said Vrohidis. "To continue to serve the high volume of patients that need care for strokes, heart attacks, emergency surgeries, motor vehicle accidents and COVID-19, we need your help now."

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects lead and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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