SSM Health St. Anthony Shawnee to offer asymptomatic testing for COVID-19

Elisabeth Slay
SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital-Shawnee will begin testing asymptomatic patients at the SSM Medical Group Clinic.

In addition to nasal swab testing for COVID-19, SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital-Shawnee will began offering asymptomatic testing to existing SSM Health Medical Group patients Tuesday, May 5.

According to Karen Rose, M.D., Co-chair of SSM Health Medical Group Broad Testing Initiative, the hospital can now test people to see if they actively have COVID-19 or had it in the past and show no symptoms.

"As of this week we are introducing antibody testing...which helps tells us whether or not you have been previously infected with COVID-19 and have had a response to it," Rose said.

Rose said to ensure the best results, SSM Health advises people to take advantage of both testing options.

"We ask that people who want to do antibody testing also have the (Polymerase Chain Reaction) testing because it allows us to have a more accurate result," Rose said. "The antibody testing we're doing won't tell us if you're infected right now."

The pediatrician said there is still many unknowns regarding COVID-19 and these antibody tests, though helpful are not perfect.

Rose said getting both tests allows for more solid results and the best course of action for patients who have or had the virus.

In fact because of the antibody testing, Rose said the Oklahoma Blood Institution will use blood donations from patients with positive antibody tests to create a convalescent serum that helps fight the virus in sick patients.

Rose said currently the hospital has enough tests for people to get both the PCR and antibody test without running out.

In addition to antibody testing, Rose said the hospital has developed a booth for doctors to safely administer PCR tests but the booths will most likely be used when there are less patients.

"Right now we're actually doing large enough numbers that we haven't been using the booth because we have a lot of people coming through," Rose said. "We'll use it eventually though."

Rose said this new testing method is for existing SSM Health Medical Group patients and to schedule an appointment at the clinic people need to call (405) 273-5801.

"If they're asymptomatic they just ask to be scheduled for testing and (the clinic) can transfer them to the right location," Rose said.