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AU provides quick tests for SRS staff, which has seen 32 COVID-19 cases

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions recently entered into a contract with nearby Augusta University Health to provide fast and reliable testing for coronavirus to benefit employees at the Savannah River Site. Lasha Kersey (left) and Stephanie Ward administer a test.
Savannah River Nuclear Solutions recently entered into a contract with nearby Augusta University Health to provide fast and reliable testing for coronavirus to benefit employees at the Savannah River Site. Lasha Kersey (left) and Stephanie Ward administer a test.(WRDW)
Published: Jun. 12, 2020 at 12:01 PM EDT
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Friday, June 12, 2020

JACKSON, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Savannah River Site managers say a collaboration with Augusta University Health is behind a coronavirus testing program that has revealed infections among a workforce of more than 11,000.

The agreement between Savannah River Nuclear Solutions and AU Health has been in place since May 7.

“The easily accessible testing allows us to quickly identify or rule out transmission within the workforce. We’ve been very pleased with Augusta University Health,” said Brenda Mills, site medical director for SRNS, the management and operations contractor for the Department of Energy industrial complex. “It’s reassuring to know that fast and reliable tests for COVID-19 are now available for our workers.”

MORE COVID-19 COVERAGE:

As of Friday, 32 infections had been detected at the 198,046-acre facility that deals with materials used in nuclear defense systems, among its other missions that include environmental stewardship. Spokeswoman Amy R. Boyette said 23 of those employees have recovered and returned to work.

The testing partnership was launched after SRS medical staffers saw that employees with symptoms had to wait for extended periods before receiving test results from their health care provider.

“We feel we have a responsibility to help our community during these challenging times,” said AU Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Phillip Coule. “We’re proud to leverage our clinical expertise to SRS so they feel confident in doing their part in protecting their staff and the public from infection.”

The agreement calls for employees exhibiting symptoms typical of the disease to contact the SRS medical department. A nurse administers a screening process to determine whether the worker’s symptoms merit travel to one of two drive-up test centers.

Upon arrival at a test center, employees verify their identity and scheduled appointment. Next, an AU Health technician administers a standard test, with results being provided within 72 hours to SRS medical personnel through a secure means. SRS medical personnel then notify the employee of the results. All medical information is protected as required.

“The turnaround time for test results is in line with the contractual agreements Augusta University Health has established with other local companies,” Mills said. “The entire process has been running smoothly, though I’m glad to say we’ve needed to schedule only a small number of employees for testing with AUH at this point.”

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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