Watkins Health Services is staying open and offering coronavirus testing for University of Kansas students who remain on campus, and has plans in place for those who receive positive test results.
Interim Director of Watkins Diana Malott said due to limited supplies, a student getting tested for novel coronavirus will depend upon the amount of symptoms present upon their arrival at Watkins.
“Those [tests] are not limitless; we will find a point where we’re going to have to make sure we have enough,” Malott said. “The second reason for this is if you get tested and you’re asymptomatic, it may give people a sense of false hope.”
Malott explained that if people get tested too early, they may get results that aren’t necessarily accurate, in other words, a false positive.
“We’re limiting who can get into our health center. Right now, it’s immediate care and potential coronavirus case patients,” Malott said. “If they are symptomatic, we’re having them go around to our back door and we’re doing the test.”
Tests will be sent to LabCorp, Watkins’ reference lab, which is based in North Carolina. Watkins is able to do the specimen collection, but LabCorp will be running the test to determine if the patient has the virus or not. Malott said they receive results from LabCorp in three to four business days.
“If someone is positive, then we would alert the Douglas County Health Department because they are the ones who are legally responsible for contacting the student, discussing the situation with that person and getting in touch with all of that person’s contacts who could have been exposed,” Malott said.
KU student housing and dining services currently plan to stay open while classes are moved online amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.
She said Watkins would not release that patient's name to anyone in the community unless there was a health-related reason that made it pertinent their name be known.
LabCorp is charging Watkins to process the tests and get results, Malott said, so students must pay a fee of $51 dollars to get tested. She noted that due to all of the information the government has released over the last few weeks, they are hoping that all insurance companies will cover the cost of the test. However, due to LabCorp charging Watkins to run the tests, there is no other option but charging for testing.
If a KU student has been to Watkins for any reason in the past, their insurance information is already on file so there is no need to present it to be tested. If someone comes in who has never been to Watkins and is without insurance, Malott said they have 14 days to send them their information.
“Nobody has to have any money in their pocket when they come to see us to get tested,” Malott said.
If students are unable to get to Watkins, Malott said Lawrence Memorial Hospital would be the next best place to go for care.
She also said due to current circumstances, Watkins has put a system in place to meet with students virtually, via Zoom, an online video chat service.
“If students want to have an appointment, we can do it that way with our providers,” Malott said. “We are still taking care of immediate care needs for students, and we will look at opening up more depending on how long we continue seeing patients that need to be tested for COVID-19.”
Although there are now limits in place as to what kinds of patients they’re seeing, Watkins has no intentions of closing its doors to KU students.
“We will stay open the whole time,” she said. “We are considered an essential service, and we’ll be here for everybody.”