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On Your Side: Nixa business struggles to get worker tested for COVID-19

(KY3)
Published: May. 13, 2020 at 6:32 PM CDT
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A Nixa business owner says she was just trying to do the right thing when one of her workers called in sick with a fever.

As she explained to On Your Side, getting a COVID-19 test is anything but easy.

Ample Industries makes custom labels on Nixa's north side.

"We’re pretty essential as far as when you think about going to the store, if you don’t have an labels on your products, you won’t know what you are buying," said Natalie Spradlin, President of Ample Industries.

More than sixty workers wear masks plus practice other safety measures to get the job done. Still, sickness can happen.

"We had a young man that called in and said he had a fever. And, of course, alarm bells start ringing. I literally gasped when I heard. Before you come back to work, I need you to be tested," she said.

Spradlin says her worker called back with bad news from a medical provider:

"They say I don't have enough symptoms to qualify for a test. That was a punch in the gut," she said.

That was last week. Spradlin reached out to Mercy. They referred her worker to a testing site in Joplin. But said -- he has to qualify.

"Then I started to wonder if they just didn't want to know if there was another positive test in Greene or Christian County. Just let me know why it's not available to us," Spradlin said.

On Your Side reached out to Mercy, CoxHealth and Citizens Memorial Hospital. While testing has expanded, patients still must meet a criteria.

For now, a work request isn't always enough.

"I want to keep Nixa safe. I want to keep families safe. I want to keep us safe. I just wanted a test," Spradlin said.

They're still trying to get that worker tested. There are a few -- onsite or drive-thru testing locations throughout Missouri. Some you have to qualify for and it could cost you hundreds of dollars out of pocket.

Statement from Mercy:

As test kit availability has recently increased, Mercy physicians are able to help more patients with fever or respiratory symptoms get tested for COVID-19. If a patient who has had those symptoms needs a test before an employer will allow them to return to work, they should let their primary care provider know so they can help them arrange for testing.

Statement from CoxHealth:

Access to COVID-19 testing has greatly expanded in southwest Missouri in recent weeks. Among other factors, CoxHealth providers may refer patients for COVID-19 testing if they feel a patient’s clinical presentation could be consistent with COVID-19, especially if they exhibit one or more of the three primary symptoms. Any individual in southwest Missouri may utilize our Virtual Visits on-demand for a free evaluation, and the provider he or she sees can refer onward for testing if necessary.

Statement from Citizens Memorial Hospital:

If the manufacturer wants their employee to be tested for COVID-19, the employee would need to contact their medical provider or their local health department to request an order for the COVID-19 test.