Free COVID-19 tests to eligible people offered locally

Hesston Pharmacy will be offering a vaccine clinic from 8 to 10 a.m. in the council room at Halstead City Hall.

Free COVID-19 testing is now available at Hesston Pharmacy, 101 S. Main St., Hesston.

The announcement was made by Sandie Kueker of Hesston Pharmacy to the Hesston City Council at its Monday night meeting.

Kueker said that she recently found out that Health and Human Services had selected the pharmacy as a collection organization for the second phase of testing in its national program.
“Tests are provided at no cost to eligible patients,” she said. “This wave of testing will run to the end of May.”

She explained that those eligible for the tests would be people exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 and people can go to the website to determine if they need a test.

The website lists that those eligible include healthcare workers and first responders, individuals with symptoms, individuals without symptoms, in accordance with state and local plans and for public health monitoring.

Kueker said testing will take place in the pharmacy’s drive up and in parking places.

She said patients will stay in their car for the safety of health care workers.

According to a Health and Human Services press release, tests will be self administered nasal swabs. Those tested will then put the swabs in a sealed kit and the pharmacy will submit the kit for lab testing. Results for each test are expected to return in three to five days.

She said she’s reached out to local health clinics and notified AgCo and Excel about the approval, as they have large numbers of employees.

“We’ll be following exact directions from Health and Human Services,” she said.

The site lists three other drive through locations in the state outside of Hesston Pharmacy: one in Hutchinson, one in El Dorado and one in Salina. A Wichita Health Clinic, HealthCore, also began conducting free tests on Monday.

“In March, Health Mart Pharmacies across the country were asked to complete a survey as to our willingness to help with testing should the need arise,” Kueker stated. “We immediately submitted our information as a pharmacy willing to help.  Last week, we learned our Hesston Pharmacy location was selected to work with the testing program through HHS [Health and Human Services] as a collection site.  We are very excited for the opportunity to serve in this way.

This opening in Hesston represents the least restrictive testing so far in the county. Previously, tests were limited to those with contact with confirmed cases and showing multiple symptoms before rules were relaxed as more tests became available.

Before the Hesston announcement, people could get a test after their medical provider spoke with them and recommended them for a test as long as they were showing symptoms of COVID-19.

So far, there have been nine confirmed cases and four probable cases. There have been at least nine recoveries total.

For any additional questions, contact the Hesston Pharmacy at (620) 327-2211.

We are so grateful to all the patients that support our pharmacies in the communities we serve,” Kueker stated. “Now is our chance to give back.”

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