Recently, ExperCARE founder and CEO, Catherine Grant, set aside some time to meet with Savannah Morning New’s Adam Van Brimmer to discuss COVID-19, vaccines, testing and more! Tune in to “The Commute” or read the transcription here!
The following is an excerpt from a “The Commute” podcast interview with ExperCare CEO Catherine C. Grant. ExperCare is a Savannah-area medical urgent care provider.. Comments have been condensed in the interest of space. Full episodes are available at SavannahNow.com/podcasts or through mobile device podcast apps by searching “The Commute with @SavannahOpinion”.
Question: The COVID-19 news is coming fast and furious these days. The Pfizer vaccine has been fully approved by the FDA, and at the same time the delta variant is causing a surge in cases and hospitalizations. When somebody asks you, ‘You’re in the health care field, what do I really need to know right now?’ what do you tell them?
Catherine Grant: “The hardest thing about it is we’re all hearing a lot of different statistics and a lot of things that are being presented as evidence. So it’s hard to know what to believe and how it applies to you. We’ve been working through this pandemic since March of last year and been involved in everything from testing to vaccinating to treating patients. We share the unanimous position of area health care providers that what we’re experiencing right now is unlike what we have seen prior. The demand for health care and for testing is exceeding the capacity of our health care system right now, whether its at point-of-care places such as urgent cares or primary care offices or pediatricians offices or hospitals. So the most important thing we can focus on is what we can do right now to mitigate the spread of this illness that’s burdening the health care system. We need to do everything we can to slow it down a bit and allow the health care system to catch up.”
Q: Your urgent care centers have been working with the state since the start in performing COVID-19 testing, and of all the disturbing stats we’ve seen lately, the percentage of positive tests is one of the most telling. What’s going on there?
CG: “We’re definitely seeing an exponential increase in the demand for testing. We track our data very carefully, and as of the middle of July, we were seeing positivity rates that were very low, below 5%. Since then the rate has climbed, and for the first three weeks of August, it’s been over 20%, sometimes even getting as high as 25%. That means our community transmission is high, and people are infecting others whether they know it or not.”
Q: Let’s take this opportunity to talk a little bit about the testing. There’s a lot of myths or exaggerations about the COVID-19 tests and about how effective they are, how accurate they are. What do people need to know about these COVID tests and their accuracy?
CG: “First, tests are just tools that help us in making decisions. So there are different types of testing: Rapid antigen testing and PCR testing. Rapid testing can mean a whole lot of different things but most people think of it in terms of getting an answer quickly. PCR testing, on the other hand, is typically performed in a lab but there are some point-of-care providers who can do PCR testing as well. Rapid antigen testing is very, very reliable, especially when you already have symptoms, and PCR testing is very reliable when the specimen is taken properly and you make sure you have a piece of that viral matter.
“The big takeaway is like anything else, a COVID test is not 100% and should be taken in context of everything else that’s going on. For example, if you develop a fever and a cough and you’ve recently had a negative test, remember that test is just a snapshot in time. You may need another COVID test. You may need a flu test. You may need to be checked for some other illness entirely. Testing is helping us in terms of making clinical decisions and helping us identify people who, whether they have symptoms or not, could potentially be spreading the virus.”
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