Port Townsend clinic now offers rapid COVID-19 testing

Posted 10/1/20

Port Townsend’s North Star Clinic is now offering people a chance to avoid any anxious anticipation as they await their results for a COVID-19 test, thanks to new testing technology recently …

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Port Townsend clinic now offers rapid COVID-19 testing

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Port Townsend’s North Star Clinic is now offering people a chance to avoid any anxious anticipation as they await their results for a COVID-19 test, thanks to new testing technology recently acquired by the clinic.

Amy Peterson of North Star Clinic said patients have a variety of options for COVID-19 testing at the clinic, but the new rapid test system offers the fastest results. 

“We actually offer a wide array of COVID-19 testing; we have three laboratories that gives us the 24- to 48-hour average turnaround time for the [Polymerase Chain Reaction] test, but we did just get a rapid test in.”

The new test, Peterson said, conducted with the BD Veritor System for Rapid Detection of SARS-CoV-2 can also be used in conjunction with the standard Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing, to rule out any potential false positives.

“It’s a fairly new test on the market,” Peterson explained.

“It’s pretty accurate on the negative test results, right around 100 percent accurate. On the positives, it’s right around 84 percent accurate,” she said. “What that means is you’re just more likely to get some false positives in there, if that ever happens, we just back it up with the PCR test.”

North Star Clinic’s James Blair, Peterson added, is also offering a rapid antibody test which is capable of showing patients if they have previously been infected with COVID-19, in just 15 minutes.

There is no need for a referral from your regular doctor either, Peterson said. Most of the patients who visit the clinic office can get a referral from Blair for a test.

“You don’t need to bring in a referral for your primary doctor,” she explained. “Nine times out of 10, it’s just Jim Blair ordering the test.”

The criteria for testing at the clinic are fairly easy to meet, Peterson said. Soon-to-be travelers; anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19; anyone planning to attend or returning from a social gathering; patients who will undergo a medical procedure; are all acceptable reasons to visit North Star for a COVID-19 test.

“I don’t think I’ve seen us ever turn anyone away,” Peterson said.   

There is one catch, though. The rapid antigen test being so new, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have not attached any reimbursement price to the service, so the $165 cost for the test are only able to be paid out-of-pocket. But according to Peterson, that’s likely to change.

“At this point, health insurance does not pay for the rapid testing, but we are anticipating that will change,” Peterson said. “People are essentially going to demand it change, because it’s just going to get more and more standard.”

To schedule a rapid COVID-19 test through North Star Clinic, call 360-344-8146. North Star Clinic is located at 1136 Water St., Suite 111 in Port Townsend.

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