Hospital suspends testing due to volume


ALTON – OSF Health Care announced Monday it was suspending asymptomatic COVID-19 testing at the Saint Anthony Health Center in Alton and its other locations due to the volume of patients.

The current rise in COVID-19 infections is mostly among the unvaccinated, hospital officials say.

“Right now, across the country, we are seeing a huge increase in COVID-19 cases,” said Director of Operations Dr Michael Cruz, FACEP. “We are equipped to handle COVID tests for patients who are ill, injured or preparing for a procedure. But our patient volume is currently so large that we need the cooperation of the public to ensure the appropriate use of our health care resources.


Cruz noted that there are a variety of options for people looking to travel, return to work, or need testing, including community testing sites, home kits, and retail pharmacies. He stressed that hospital emergency departments should be reserved for real medical emergencies and not be used as a means of obtaining a COVID-19 test result from asymptomatic people.

He said the OSF Care Station, OSF PromptCare and OSF OnCall Urgent Care locations will continue to serve the needs of people with symptoms associated with COVID-19.

The most recent figures from the Madison County Department of Health, released Thursday, listed 24 COVID-19-related deaths for December and a total so far of 642. The Illinois Department of Public Health reported Monday 648 COVID-19 deaths to date in Madison County.

No Madison County Christmas weekend figures were available at press time on Monday.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force reported 630 confirmed hospitalizations on Monday, up from 574 on Friday, for the four major health systems: BJC HealthCare, Mercy, SSM Health and St. Luke’s Hospital. Of the 630 hospitalized COVID patients, 166 – or 26% – were fully vaccinated.

Hospital capacity in staffed beds as of Monday was 85% in task force hospitals, with intensive care units at 78% of their total staffed bed capacity.

Also on Monday, Governor JB Pritzker called on the IDPH and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) to “strengthen its partnerships with local health service mass vaccination operations.”

The state has more than doubled its staff, Pritzker said, and added at least 100 people to regional sites to help administer vaccinations, prepare vaccine doses for clinic staff and enter data.

Starting Jan. 3, the state’s free community testing sites will begin operating six days a week to increase the availability of COVID-19 testing statewide.

Pritzer said the “staffing” would support local health departments “to immunize and stimulate tens of thousands more Illinois.”

“We are also increasing testing and continuing to distribute monoclonal antibodies, antiviral pills and any treatment or personal protective equipment that communities need,” he said. “I will continue to do all we can to protect everyone in this state, regardless of your immunization status. But the type of year 2022 depends on all of us doing what is best for all of us.”

IDPH director Dr Ngozi Ezike said the state was seeing a demand for booster doses, but it was critically important that those who have not yet received even one dose of vaccine get vaccinated.

“The vast majority of cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among those who are not vaccinated,” she said. “COVID-19 can be prevented with vaccination, so get vaccinated and get boosted. ”

One of the 10 community testing sites is located at the St. Clair Square Mall in Fairview Heights. The site is now open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

Anyone 12 years and older who needs a first or second dose can also use the free clinics. While adults have the option of combining their booster vaccine, 16 and 17 year olds are only allowed to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech booster.

Madison County offers COVID-19 vaccines for people ages 5 and older in its office at 101 E. Edwardsville Road in Wood River. Vaccinations can only be done by appointment; people can visit www.madisonchd.org and click the green “Vaccine appointments open” button, or call 618-692-8954 x 2.

The CDC also has a Vaccine Finder that allows people to select the vaccine they are looking for and provides the locations that currently have it. For more details, visit www.vaccines.gov, call 800-232-0233 or text your zip code to 438829.


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