How Nebraska’s rural health districts are meeting COVID testing gap

Two Rivers Health District told KETV “No comment,” in response to Gov. Pete Ricketts’ statement on access to testing across the state. At the Buffalo County fairgrounds sits a small, white portable building. It’s the main testing site for Two Rivers Health District.Jacki Connery said the demand for testing has steadily increased over the past few months.”I started back in October, and we were doing about 40 participants a day,” said Connery. “Just for this week, for Monday and Wednesday, we did 232 tests.” Without the state providing testing, the health district’s planning section supervisor Katie Mulligan said Two Rivers is relying on private companies and hospitals to close that gap. She said she needs more staff.”We want more of them,” said Mulligan. “I don’t care who it is. We’d love about five more . We have some counties that want us to be closer to them.”Alan Kohll is the founder of Total Wellness, which is currently partnering with five health districts across Nebraska for testing, including Two Rivers. “We’re taking the risk,” said Kohll. “We’re providing the supplies and equipment.”Kohll described these rural areas as testing deserts.”There’s a lot of pockets where people… there’s not a density population,” said Kohll. “There’s not probably a Walgreens on every corner like we do in Omaha and Lincoln.”Mulligan said right now, commercial partners like Total Wellness could be more sustainable for future access to testing.”The government-supported systems don’t feel as permanent,” said Mulligan. “It feels like it responds to an emergency.”Kohll said as long as insurance companies will still cover testing costs, Total Wellness can help provide testing for Nebraskans. “We didn’t think that testing would continue forever,” said Kohll. “But I’ve learned through the pandemic, never assume anything.”

Two Rivers Health District told KETV “No comment,” in response to Gov. Pete Ricketts’ statement on access to testing across the state.

At the Buffalo County fairgrounds sits a small, white portable building. It’s the main testing site for Two Rivers Health District.

Jacki Connery said the demand for testing has steadily increased over the past few months.

“I started back in October, and we were doing about 40 participants a day,” said Connery. “Just for this week, for Monday and Wednesday, we did 232 tests.”

Without the state providing testing, the health district’s planning section supervisor Katie Mulligan said Two Rivers is relying on private companies and hospitals to close that gap. She said she needs more staff.

“We want more of them,” said Mulligan. “I don’t care who it is. We’d love about five more [testing sites]. We have some counties that want us to be closer to them.”

Alan Kohll is the founder of Total Wellness, which is currently partnering with five health districts across Nebraska for testing, including Two Rivers.

“We’re taking the risk,” said Kohll. “We’re providing the supplies and equipment.”

Kohll described these rural areas as testing deserts.

“There’s a lot of pockets where people… there’s not a density population,” said Kohll. “There’s not probably a Walgreens on every corner like we do in Omaha and Lincoln.”

Mulligan said right now, commercial partners like Total Wellness could be more sustainable for future access to testing.

“The government-supported systems don’t feel as permanent,” said Mulligan. “It feels like it responds to an emergency.”

Kohll said as long as insurance companies will still cover testing costs, Total Wellness can help provide testing for Nebraskans.

“We didn’t think that testing would continue forever,” said Kohll. “But I’ve learned through the pandemic, never assume anything.”

https://www.ketv.com/article/nebraska-rural-health-districts-private-companies-hospitals-testing-gap/38687778