Where Should You Go For COVID-19 Care and Testing?
Does it matter where you get tested for COVID-19? When choosing between a community site or your primary care provider, remember that continuity is key.
The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has inundated our lives and uprooted our routines. There are many unknowns as this pandemic sweeps the nation. But with this new disease comes the eager sprint to test as many people as possible.
You likely know that there are two types of testing. These two types of tests are narrowed down to viral (PCR) tests and antibody (serology) tests. A viral test includes the nasal swab test and the saliva sample test. Any form of a viral test is meant to identify if a person is currently sick. This is done by detecting RNA, the identifying stamp of a virus, in the specimen collected. In most circumstances, you will need a provider note before getting a COVID-19 viral test. An antibody test requires a patient to have their blood drawn. This test is meant for determining if you had a disease, including COVID-19. This test is best for 1 to 3 weeks after having the virus. As COVID-19 is still rampant in our state, AFM does not currently recommend getting an antibody test. But how do you know which test is recommended for you, where you should go for swab tests versus antibody tests, and how to get a doctor’s note to be able to get tested?
There are a variety of places where you can get tested for COVID-19 and access basic care. Before you stop by a community testing site or a local retail clinic, consider the benefits of visiting your neighborhood family provider – not just for a referral for COVID-19 testing, but for all the additional care you need.
Feeling under the weather and not sure what it is? Call (970) 495-6234 to schedule a virtual visit.
Continuity of Care
When you frequent the ever-growing number of retail clinics or freestanding lab sites in our Northern Colorado area, you’re much more likely to see a provider you’ve never met. While this might seem insignificant when all you need is a COVID-19 test, there are a couple of considerations to keep in mind.
- Since patient medical records are not always shared between retail clinics and primary care offices, receiving care in multiple settings can make monitoring and managing your care more challenging for your primary care provider. This can lead to potential mix-ups, misunderstandings, and inconsistencies in your care over time.
- The reason for your visit might be more complicated than you think. Many symptoms of COVID-19 are also main symptoms for other prominent respiratory illnesses. COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses can affect different people in different ways, particularly in immunocompromised and elderly populations. Retail clinics are not always equipped to make complex diagnoses or spot underlying, chronic conditions.
At AFM’s local primary care offices and urgent care clinics, you can expect ongoing relationships with providers who know you and see the bigger picture of your care needs. By visiting a provider who sees you regularly or one who has easy access to your complete medical records, you can:
- Experience greater consistency in the long-term care you receive
- Know that your medical records are always up to date
- Be sure your other care and immunization needs are met
- Catch any serious early on
Convenient access to care
At AFM, we value every aspect of patient care and want to ensure complete consistency in your health journey. Which is why we do our best to make high-quality, hometown health care as accessible and convenient as possible. Get your COVID-19 concerns addressed, general checkups and even urgent medical needs met with:
- Virtual Visits – for access to quality primary and urgent care from the comfort of your home
- Accessible urgent care locations – open to existing patients and the general public, with extended weekday and weekend hours and no appointments necessary
- Shared electronic medical records among every AFM location – to save you time filling out tedious paperwork
What’s the verdict
Retail clinics and various other freestanding lab sites or clinics have a number of pros, including convenience, affordability, and increased access to basic care and COVID-19 testing or antibody testing. Yet they should not and cannot replace your primary care provider.
“Having your testing for COVID ordered by your AFM provider is so important,” expressed Amy Stump, Clinical Pharmacist at Associates in Family Medicine. “As the types of testing, the knowledge around them and their results continually change, having your Primary Care Provider to go to is the best way to be sure that you get the right test done at the right time. It also ensures you will get your results in a timely manner and receive proper guidance on a plan of care, what your results mean, and the steps you should take to keep yourself and your family well during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Our family-focused providers at AFM are doing more to make your care experiences through this pandemic as easy, affordable, and pleasant as possible.