The news in these last few days of the success rate of COVID-19 vaccines is a rare bit of good news in a tough 2020. But despite this welcome news, testing for the coronavirus is still going to be with us well into 2021.
However, Medicap Pharmacy has recently begun offering a test that takes just 15 minutes to reveal whether or not a person is positive for COVID-19, offering another source of testing for people in our area.
The announcement by the pharmacy has seen instant results.
“We rolled it out two weeks ago now with a soft opening,” said Certified Pharmacy Technician Susie McShane. “Even with that, it’s been really busy. That’s what we’ve been seeing is a constant flow of people being tested.”
The testing employs similar techniques used to determine if somebody has strep throat or the flu, lending to a smooth transition in being able to test for COVID-19.
The testing is made possible through a partnership with the wholesaler Cardinal Health and BD Veritor, who make the device used in the testing.
“It is really amazing the same analyzer for strep cultures and influenza can be used for this,” said Pharmacist Kaye Hansen.
Those wanting to take the test need only call Medicap and make an appointment. After arriving, people need to call into Medicap, where a technician will come out and escort you in.
Information will be gathered and people will be told what to expect.
Following that the pharmacists will apply the test resulting in a nasal swab that is turned five times in each nostril. Unlike tests conducted at Mayo Clinic Health Systems, the test at Medicap doesn’t require the swab to be inserted so far up the nose.
Once the sample is gathered, the swab is placed in a fluid medium, where it is agitated for 15 seconds before it is placed in the tester.
“We set the alarm and wait for the results,” McShane said.
Another aspect of this that makes getting tested simple is the work Medicap does with insurance companies to ensure these tests are covered. The test costs $75, but Medicap is able to work it through so the tests do fall under insurance.
“HSA and FSA cards can be used to pay for it and then we can run the test through as a prescription so there is a receipt that can be submitted,” Hansen said.
The service itself is driven by the Medicap technicians, who steer the traffic during the process.
“This is really a tech driven service,” said Pharmacist Chris Meyer. “A lot of things happen in the front end and are handled by the techs.”
“We take down all the information, symptoms and walk you through the process,” McShane said. “We do the whole thing. We’re the first person they talk to.”
This kind of flexibility has added an important step in the COVID-19 fight in Austin, and while those working at Medicap know it’s not the same as those tests given at hospitals like Mayo, they stand behind their test as being an important step in keeping the community safe.
“Theirs is the gold standard, no doubt,” Meyer said. “We feel confident about our machine. These two big companies aren’t going to work with us to put out a cheap analyzer.”
Adding to that flexibility was a decision by the state and federal governments to free up pharmacists a little more to give the tests.
“At the top, the federal government and Health and Human Services gave us some rights,” Meyer said. “Before, we would need a doctor to order the test.”
Even more, it’s an important step when it comes to working with the community of Austin.
“We like to be community involved,” McShane said “We’ve been very busy with this, but it’s good to be part of the community.”
The test is given to those five and older. To make an appointment with Medicap, call 433-7123.