Coronavirus Coverage from KARK

Baptist Health has all hands on deck to tackle surge in COVID-19 testing

Coronavirus

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – This week Baptist Hospital saw their COVID-19 testing numbers increase substantially and daily.

On Monday they completed 1,371 tests, Tuesday it was 1,496, and on Wednesday it jumped to 1,726.

Dr. Amanda Novack oversees the testing clinic at Baptist and she knows the operation is one of the more important ones the hospital does right now.

“We’ll get to our meetings and our reports, you know, in a few weeks when this dies down but for right now it really is all hands on deck,” Dr. Novack said.

Staffing for the clinic has also grown exponentially.  At the beginning of December, there were only three staffing it and they said they would average around 10 tests daily.

But now they need 40 people to make sure it runs efficiently.                                

“When I saw administration out, I knew that it was serious,” said Christy Johnson-Collins, who is Baptist Hospital’s Admissions Supervisor.

Top-level administrative staff came down to help with traffic control, the Admissions Department added staff to the clinic itself instead of doing things from their offices to speed up check-ins and ensure information is correct, and lab workers are assisting with sample collections.

“If you want to know the definition of teamwork here it is,” said Tiffany Hatton who is a phlebotomist at the hospital.

With such rapid growth of the operation, staffers say there has been a lot of trial and error to see what works to streamline processes.  The clinic has divided up the process in parts of the line so each section has a different task in order to keep things moving.

Dr. Novack said they want to keep lines moving as much as they can so as not to discourage anyone from getting tested who want to do so.

She said the lines at Baptist are not as daunting as they appear.

“And the reality is these lines move really quickly. We’re really trying to run it like Disney World or Chick-fil-A,” Dr. Novack said.

Workers say keeping an open line of communication amongst each other in the chaos has been the key to making those adjustments in order to keep lines moving.

“Everybody’s open to suggestions and to making everything better so that it can flow better,” Johnson-Collins explained.

Baptist did not envision this kind of demand for covid testing even just two weeks ago.  On December 26 they tested around 400 people and said it was a lot at the time.

Dr. Novack has been encouraged by all the staff assisting when they can and said the collaborative effort is one of the most beautiful things she has seen during the pandemic.

“It’s this collaborative effort this you really ask not what my hospital can do for me but what I can do for my hospital,” Dr. Novack said.

On Thursday Baptist Health tested 1,589 people and was the first day they saw fewer testing numbers this week.

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