By Brenda Meadows
The wait is over for people who have had no way to get tested to determine if they have been exposed to the coronavirus (COVID-19). Ozark Valley Medical Clinics offer a drive through lane at each of its three locations.
“I have been working on this for some time, once I saw that the public was literally not able to get any test done,” said Dr. Tricia A. Derges. “The hospitals aren't even testing unless someone is very serious. By then, it's too late to catch it early and try and treat in order to reduce symptoms sooner. I have now contracted with two excellent labs, located throughout the US, that will be able to provide test results with a one day turnaround.”
If the Clinics’ doctors detect any signs of illness through the free evaluation, they are able to write an order and give the test.
Dr. Derges said the three clinics follow the requirements of the State of Missouri and the Centers for Disease Control Prevention, which requires any patient taking the test to have a physicians order.
Ruby Weyrauch gets necessary details from a person at the Ozark Valley Medical Clinics COVID-19 drive through. (Special to Branson Globe)
“The great thing about our clinics is that our doctors are already there and will evaluate you at the time you get there,” Dr. Derges said.“We are waiving our normal office fee of $135. We want to do everything possible to help our community. This is why our testing price is set at only $50 above cost in order to cover our testing supplies, protective gear and the daily overnight shipping fees by FED EX to the labs. The cost is $290, this includes the test, all supplies, health evaluation, shipping.”
Most people wanting to take the COVID-19 test ask the same questions, “is the test painful, how long does it take and how long until you get the results?”
“The test is done just like you would for strep throat,” said Dr. Derges. “It’s a swab to the back of your throat. So probably [there is] some gagging, but not painful. After years of business, I am very determined and I learned that persistence pays off. I finally found a very good supplier for the test. I have spoken to multiple labs over the past week and only two have been able to guarantee me what I am needing.”
As for the process of testing the swabs, the OVMC labs are working 24/7, so if the sample is shipped overnight and meets the shipping deadline cut off, results should be available by the next evening. If it misses the cut off, the results will be sent out the next day, with results available the next evening.
Volunteer Erin Tompkins and Dr. Michael Kaler register people as they test for COVID-19 at the Ozark Valley Medical Clinics drive through. (Special to Branson Globe)
“And one lab has just gotten in another machine,” Dr. Derges said. “So they are able to provide one day turn around testing. If someone is positive, the doctor will call the patient and the lab will report it to the CDC, as required. We will have already covered the protocol for patients with them when they come for testing in regards to quarantining for themselves and all others in the house.” This means no one, including spouses, in the household can go to work or any place else until test results come back.
“If they are positive, the doctor will cover additional information at the time of his/her call,” Dr. Derges said. “We will be able to offer these at all three of our clinics. We are also considering the added option of a mobile testing unit very soon. So we can bring testing to a business/facility or a town that is remote.”
Dr. Derges opened the clinics in response to the many people, “in desperate need of reasonable health care that were showing up to my mission clinic ‘Lift Up Springfield’ Medical -Dental - Mental Health Mission Clinic.’”
She and her husband had raised eight children, so she made the decision to go to medical school at the age of 52. She wanted to help people in a much bigger way. She was “blessed” to be able to do all of her clinical training in her hometown. Lift Up Springfield also serves patients in other county's and states. Derges created the community's first home bound work program designed for single moms, the elderly and people unable to hold down regular jobs due to poor health or difficult circumstances. This community contribution was personally recognized by President George Bush in 2004.
“My mission has now treated over 25,000 people so far, from all over Christian, Taney, Greene and all over the state,” she said. “We work strictly by volunteers and what donations we can get from people. I won't take any state or federal aid or then we would be told who we can and can't see. We will help anyone in need.
Our mission clinic has been recognized and received awards from local, state and national levels, including Washington DC for its work with the underserved.”
Now, people suspecting they have COVID-19 have three primary - urgent care clinics choose from. They are in Springfield, Ozark (CC and 65) and Branson on 76. The Ozark and Branson clinics are open 8 a.m. until 10 p.m., 365 days a year. The East Springfield Clinic is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday - Friday.
“This way, anytime you need a doctor (and you will ONLY see a doctor in any of my clinics, including Lift Up Springfield Mission), we are there for you,” said Dr. Derges. “We are still open during this corona crisis for anyone. We ask that if the situation can be done by telemedicine, please do so. If you need to be seen for a procedure (stitches, abscess, etc) then simply call or walk-in and we will have you stop at the door and we will evaluate you and get you taken care of.”
Derges said the GREAT NEWS is, because the success of a protocol she developed in her research of MSC's for COPD, the FDA has approved a pilot study on COVID patients “using my protocol,” she said. “This could be a major game changer in the fight of this virus.”
The Branson clinic’s phone number is 417-317-5330.