Two types of COVID-19 testing are available through Morris Hospital – the nasopharyngeal (nasal) swab viral test used to determine if someone is currently infected with COVID-19, and the Serum COVID IgG test used to determine if a person has had a past exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
According to Dr. Farrukh Aijaz, pathologist and medical director of the Morris Hospital laboratory, the nasal swab test requires collecting a sample from the patient’s respiratory system through a swab inserted in the nasal cavity.
The swab is then analyzed in the lab for viral genetic material. Test results may be available within one hour or up to three days, depending whether the test is processed in the Morris Hospital Lab or sent out to a reference lab.
While Morris Hospital’s testing capability was limited in the early days of the pandemic to those who were ill enough to seek care in the emergency department, today Morris Hospital is testing symptomatic and asymptomatic patients without exposure,
This especially includes health care workers, patients age 65 and over, patients with qualifying risk factors, all patients admitted to the hospital, all patients undergoing an elective surgery or procedure, and other patients who qualify under the Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines.
The nasal swab is performed as an outpatient test with a physician’s order. Patients are given a scheduled time and instructed to pull up to the former outpatient entrance at the hospital and remain in their vehicle while lab personnel administer the nasal swab.
“Individuals who test positive are a source of infection and need to self-isolate to prevent spreading the virus to others,” Aijaz said in a release from Morris Hospital. “This is very important, as each of us has a responsibility to ourselves and to the community.”
Aijaz cautioned that, as with any test, there is the possibility of false negatives with COVID-19 nasal swab test depending on the quality of the specimen collection and appropriate transport of the specimen to the lab.
He recommends all patients who undergo testing to follow the guidance of their physician even if the test comes back negative.
“If someone has typical symptoms of COVID-19 and the test comes back negative, that does not mean that it is truly negative,” Aijaz said in the release. “If the physician has a high degree of suspicion, sometimes we’ll retest with a different testing mechanism.”
Along with the nasal swab, the Morris Hospital laboratory also offers the Serum COVID IgG test to determine if a person has had a past exposure to the COVID-19 virus," he said in the release.
"This test involves a blood draw and is available as an outpatient laboratory test for individuals who are at least 10 days past the first onset of symptoms," he said in the release.
The IgG antibody test requires a physician’s order and can be scheduled at a Morris Hospital laboratory collection site in Channahon, Diamond-Coal City, Dwight, Morris or Ottawa. Results are usually available within one to two days.