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Benefis explains criteria for coronavirus testing

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Posted at 8:10 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 10:47:29-04

GREAT FALLS — After receiving messages from a man who claimed he was sent home from Benefis Health System without being tested for coronavirus, we contacted the hospital to ask about their testing practices and how they determine who gets tested and who doesn't.

Although Benefis they said they can not comment on specific cases, they make sure that every employee is aware of testing procedures passed down by the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

They start with screening, including a physical exam, health history, and potential exposure risks.

If none of those criteria are met, they also may test for other viral illnesses such as the flu.

They recommend anyone with questions call their hot line at 406-455-2500, where they can receive help to determine if there is a need for testing. You can also call Great Falls Clinic at 406-454-7275, or Alluvion Health at 406-454-6973.

We also contacted the patient for more information and to verify his claims, but he declined to answer any of our questions.

On Monday, the City-County Health Department said more than 20 samples from Cascade County have been sent to the state Department of Public Health & Human Services (DPHHS) lab in Helena so far, and all have come back negative.

There are currently no confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Great Falls or Cascade County.

CONTINUING COVERAGE:

There are now 10 confirmed COVID-19 patients in the state of Montana. Here is the publicly-released information about them:

  • Gallatin County (3): man in his 40s; recovering at home; acquired through international travel; 2 men in their 20s
  • Missoula County (3): man in his 50s, woman in her 30s; man in his 20s
  • Yellowstone County (2): woman in her 50s; recovering at home; acquired through international travel; woman in her 20s
  • Butte-Silver Bow County: man in his 50s; recovering at home; acquired domestically in affected areas out of state
  • Broadwater County: man in his 50s; recovering at home; acquired domestically in affected areas out of state
  • NOTE: there is an 11th Montanan diagnosed with COVID-19; she is from Lake County, is a part-time Montana resident currently in Maryland with no documented exposures or close contacts in Montana, and was not tested in Montana. She was tested and diagnosed in Maryland, where she currently is residing.

There are currently no confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Great Falls or Cascade County. KRTV is aware of concerns in the community about who should be tested and who is able to get tested, and are working to get answers from public health officials.