Bozeman Health says that within a month, it will be able to analyze COVID-19 swabs on site. The regional health giant says this could reduce the wait time for results to less than an hour.
Bozeman Health has ordered three analyzers to test nasal swabs for COVID-19 at Deaconess Hospital in Bozeman, Belgrade Clinic and Urgent Care and Big Sky Medical Center. Brad Ludford, Bozeman Health’s Chief Financial Officer, says having on site testing rather than sending samples to the state lab will cut the wait time for results from a day or more to 40 minutes. “We expect within about four weeks, we’ll be able to have that new equipment in place, and we’ll be able to provide almost immediate results to patients,” Ludford says. Several big donors from Bozeman and Big Sky helped Bozeman Health pay for the new analyzers. Ludford says the larger analyzer for Deaconess Hospital costs around $230,000. The two analyzers for the other sites are each around $70,000. He says donors are also supporting construction costs at Big Sky Medical Center to increase the number of beds from four to eight. “We’re talking about how we can best utilize Big Sky Medical Center and might that be a good place for post-acute patients that are not necessarily struggling with COVID-19,” Ludford says. Ludford says Bozeman Health is considering sending people recovering from a stroke or surgery to Big Sky to keep Deaconess Hospital in Bozeman focused on patients with COVID-19. He says getting personal protective equipment like masks, gloves and gowns remains a significant challenge.