Students having difficulties getting accessible testing through MU

Despite MU's commitments to providing COVID testing, students find it inaccessible to get tested on campus and some have had to find other methods to do so.

MU Students are having difficulties getting COVID-19 testing when following the protocols listed in the Show Me Renewal Plan.

This plan was created by MU administration and health professionals to help slow the spread of COVID-19 on campus. It provides instructions for students on getting tested through MU.

Vani Ganesh, a residential advisor on campus, recently tested positive for COVID-19. She said she woke up sick with a fever and called the Student Health Center.

“I tried to call them and no one answered,” Ganesh said.

She assumed that since it was Labor Day weekend, they must not have been working, even though she said she made the call during the business hours listed. Ganesh ended up driving to St. Louis for a test.

“I live in St. Louis which isn’t far away so I just drove and got tested for free because I couldn’t get a hold of anyone to refer me to test here,” Ganesh said.

As a residential advisor, Ganesh said she’s had residents express their concerns about COVID-19 to her.

“From what people have told me, they’ll either tell you to wait to get tested and just sit in your room until you start to feel sick,” Ganesh said. “Or they’ll be like, ‘If you don’t have symptoms … we’re not going to give you a referral.’”

Ganesh also said that some residents tried to get tested while their roommates were waiting for results, but weren’t able to if they didn’t have symptoms.

In a Facebook post on Sept. 17, MU Health Care stated people that have been in close contact with someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 do not need to get tested, unless they start showing symptoms.

According to a video released by the MU News Bureau on Aug. 28, part of MU’s commitment to slowing the spread of COVID-19 is to test students with symptoms or those who might have been in close contact with someone who was positive.

MU junior Madalynn Owens said her roommates also had difficulties getting tested through MU after they were exposed because they lacked symptoms.

Her roommates had around six people over one night and they later found out that three or four of them tested positive for COVID-19. They called MU to get a referral for a COVID test, but Owens said they weren’t able to because they didn’t have any symptoms.

Owens’s roommates called later and made up symptoms in order to get a referral. She said they listed sicknesses that are harder to detect, such as headaches or body aches.

“They were finally able to get tested, which was good, but nobody should have to lie to get tested,” Owens said.

During the summer, before most people returned to campus, MU student Katie Gregory also had complications getting tested.

Gregory got a referral from her general practitioner at home but had difficulties getting it to MU. Due to HIPAA policies, they weren’t able to email her the referral. Gregory said her practitioner needed to fax it to MU.

Gregory said her issue was trying to find the right fax number. She said everyone she called at MU didn’t know the right number to give her.

“They just don’t make it super accessible,” Gregory said. “I finally had gotten my referral and literally the last step of the process is where I gave up.”

Gregory ended up driving back home to Kansas City, Mo.,so she could get tested without a referral.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently revised their guidelines regarding asymptomatic carriers and COVID-19 testing. Their website states that asymptomatic carriers have a significant impact on the spread of the disease and need to be tested if they have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

“Close contact is defined as being within six feet of someone for 15 minutes or longer, with or without a face covering,” according to MU’s #CampusClear app.

There are local resources available for people who are in need of testing and have difficulties getting a referral or test through MU.

Dr. Elizabeth Alleman is a local physician in Columbia and is providing referrals for anyone who needs it. Providence Urgent Care, located on Nifong Blvd., is also providing free testing to all patients without a referral.

Edited by Joy Mazur | jmazur@themaneater.com

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