UnityPoint Health announced today it has expanded COVID-19 testing to include asymptomatic patients admitted to its hospitals. The expanded testing, which began on May 6, includes planned admissions and transfers of all ages who have not been tested for COVID-19 in the prior 72 hours, the health system said in a press release. 

UnityPoint Health is using clinical criteria to determine which procedures and services require screening and testing. The reason for prioritizing testing of all patients admitted to its hospitals is due to higher risk for potential urgent procedures and for discharge planning for patients going to long-term care facilities. The testing also includes pediatric patients and patients admitted for labor and delivery. 

“As our testing capability increases, we will also continue to test more people coming into our hospitals and clinics,” said Dr. Dave Williams, UnityPoint Health chief medical officer. “This is important as we begin to resume elective procedures in certain regions within the next few weeks.” 

This testing for COVID-19 is done with a nasal swab. The wait time for screening results of inpatients showing no symptoms will be 12 to 36 hours. Patients admitted for emergency surgery and labor and delivery can expect a turnaround time of approximately four hours if resources are available. 

In Greater Des Moines, UnityPoint Health’s hospitals include Iowa Methodist Medical Center, Iowa Lutheran Hospital, Blank Children’s Hospital and Methodist West. 

MercyOne Central Iowa last week announced that it had entered into a partnership with Corteva Agriscience to begin conducting daily rapid testing of patients at its Des Moines hospitals, using Corteva’s laboratory facilities in Johnston.  

All patients of MercyOne Central Iowa are tested before admission, the health system said today in an update. 

“With the multi-phased resumption of elective surgeries last week, MercyOne Des Moines and West Des Moines Medical Centers added additional COVID-19 patient testing,” officials said in an emailed statement. “This testing follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Iowa Department of Public Health  guidance for limiting COVID-19 exposure.” 

Patients with COVID-19 symptoms receive a rapid test, which provides results within two hours. The results ensure the patient is placed in the best setting for safety and quality care. Emergency patients also receive the rapid test. Patients who are asymptomatic receive the standard COVID-19 test, which provides results in 24 to 36 hours. 

MercyOne Des Moines also provides COVID-19 testing for women delivering babies at MercyOne Des Moines Maternity & Infants’ Care. Rapid testing is provided for women who are in active labor; C-section or induction delivery tests are performed using the standard test. Additionally, outpatient surgery patients are tested 48 hours before their scheduled procedure. If a COVID-19 test is positive, the surgery is delayed if possible. 

For their safety, COVID-19 tests are now provided for MercyOne patients who are residents of long-term care facilities. The test results do not change IDPH requirements of a 14-day isolation period after a resident’s return to their facility.