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Kouts Health Care on providing COVID-19 testing: 'The right thing to do'
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Kouts Health Care on providing COVID-19 testing: 'The right thing to do'

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KOUTS — Kathy Lynch, owner of Kouts Health Care, said she believes her office was likely one of the very first private practices to offer COVID-19 testing in the area. 

"This is why we go into medicine. It's the ethically, morally and spiritually right thing to do to help people, and we need to do this," Lynch said. 

The private practice at 705 N. Main St. in south Porter County first started offering drive-thru testing to potentially sick individuals on Saturday and continued testing on Monday and Wednesday. 

Lynch said she and her staff will continue testing on a limited schedule as long as supplies last.

Patients are encouraged to call the clinic ahead of time at 219-766-3131. All patients must pre-register and have a doctor's order. 

She said more than half of the patients tested on Monday were health care workers. 

"It's very sad. They're all very scared," she said. 

Lynch said they've been able to test between 8 to 20 people during each of the three testing days so far. 

She said the Porter County Health Department is compiling statistics on Kouts Health Care's test results — both negative and positive results. 

Tracking all testing, not just the positives, helps health experts properly monitor the rapidly changing situation, she said.

"It lets us know if our screening technique is good or not. Every week, the screening has changed. First, it was if you had traveled to China. Then it was to China and (the state of) Washington. Then it was Europe. Then a cruise, on a plane, overseas. And now we know it's being spread in the community," Lynch said. 

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She said President Donald Trump announced last week that insurance companies agreed to waive co-payments for testing, but that such testing would not be immediately and widely available.

That's when Lynch says she decided to inquire with the private sector to see if her local practice could start offering the testing. 

"Our lab contacted us the next day and offered to send us supplies if we were willing to test," she said. "Why were we willing to take this on? We see the people are getting sicker and sicker as the days go by." 

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To reduce physical contact, Lynch said her employees take photos of patients' insurance cards and identification from their vehicle.

Patients fill out a signed questionnaire with a gloved hand so they don't come in direct contact with the office's pen. Employees wear goggles and face masks. 

All patients are screened ahead of time to ensure the most at-risk individuals receive testing, she said. They are looking for high fever over several days, a dry cough, and shortness of breath, she said. 

Test results are more accurate if the individual has carried symptoms for six days or more, she said. 

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Results from the first round of testing on Saturday should arrive later this week from the laboratory Quest, based in California, she said. 

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"I just talked to them a couple of hours ago and they said they became overwhelmed in the last 5 days (with results)," she said. 

When a patient's test results come back, the labs will submit them to the health department of the county in which they reside. 

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North Lake County Reporter

Lauren covers North Lake County government, breaking news, crime and environmental issues for The Times. She holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting from UIS. Contact her at lauren.cross@nwi.com or 219-933-3206.

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