NEW ORLEANS — Jane, as we’ll call her, first had a strange feeling in the back of her throat. When she heard someone in her office tested positive for COVID-19, she went and got tested.
“The day that I went to have the test, I had a 100-degree fever. The next day I had a 101-degree fever,” she said.
That was 10 days ago. Still no results.
“I know that the medical community is extremely frustrated with this,” Jane said. “For me, I’ve just tried to stay very calm.”
On Wednesday, the President of the St. Tammany Parish Medical Society, Dr. Devan Sczcepansk, said she and her fellow doctors on the front lines of treatment have the same concerns.
One of her patients died from COVID-19 before their test came back 10 days later.
"It’s paramount to have a result to a test to be able to let that kind of guide you. In helping you make decisions that are very hard,” Sczcepansk said. Right now, we don’t really have one clear way to treat this.”
Ochsner Health officials explained the delay saying state and commercial labs have been overwhelmed with the enormous number of tests.
Ochsner just got capabilities Saturday to get their patients’ test results on-site in their own lab. Those now take 24-36 hours. But swabs taken before this past weekend, like Jane’s, are still hung up in the backlog. The state health department says commercial labs are taking around six days for swab results, but that is not what Jane and others are seeing.
In the meantime, Jane is isolated at home. She joined a Facebook support group of others who are sick. And she wonders if the hydroxychloroquine she already takes for an autoimmune condition is helping.
“I haven’t had the vengeance, but I’ve had the period where I felt bad, then I felt great and then I didn’t feel so great,” Jane said.
For now, she remains anonymous. She’s worried about social backlash and frightening her contacts. But she will alert them as soon as her results come back.
Read the full statement from Ochsner Health on the delay in test results below:
We understand the local and national frustration with COVID-19 testing and the stress this causes for patients awaiting their test results from commercial testing. Delays in COVID-19 test results from commercial labs are occurring across the country. This is not unique to Ochsner Health. All hospital systems across Louisiana and nationwide are experiencing this delay.
At Ochsner, we recognized the need for additional testing and a quicker turnaround time for test results. Our lab team worked around the clock to develop in-house testing, and on Saturday, March 21, Ochsner became the first healthcare organization in Louisiana with in-house testing capabilities. We started testing 300 patients per day with same-day results and are in the process of setting up in-house testing at Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport. We are also expanding our lab capabilities at Ochsner Medical Center- Jefferson Highway and hope to ramp up to 1,400 tests per day next week.
Prior to Ochsner’s in-house testing on March 21, our facilities utilized the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) and then commercial labs, including Mayo and Quest, to test and care for as many people as possible. We are currently waiting on nearly 1,300 test results from Mayo.