If you have wondered what it’s like to get a COVID test, you are in good company. I didn’t know what was involved or how easy/difficult it was to obtain before I had one myself. I got a COVID test this morning because I will be visiting my parents this weekend. They are both close to 70 and in good health and I have been following guidelines regarding masks, distancing, and sanitizing but STILL. I can’t imagine unknowingly giving them the virus, especially if there is an option to test within my reach.
I was speaking to my doctor about my migraines (I have been having them for years) and asked her about getting a precautionary COVID test. She told me that at our hospital, NorthShore University Health System- Evanston, there was a shortage of tests and I wouldn’t be given one unless I had the three major symptoms. I had heard of independent COVID testing centers but didn’t know anyone who went to one or how they operated. I hopped on our local Mom’s Facebook Page (because duh, that is where the secrets of the universe are) and quickly found a testing site that offered fast results.
There are three main types of COVID tests
- COVID-19 Swab Virus Test
- COVID-19 Rapid Swab Test
- COVID-19 Antibody Blood Test
The location I found (Innovative Covid) has all three, as well as a workplace testing program where they come to your place of employment and test all employees. I did a little research on InnovativeCovid and how they came about. Dr. Rahul Khare was an emergency room physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital for 10 years as well as an associate professor at Northwestern University. While at Northwestern University, he received over $700,000 in grants that went towards evaluating how to improve healthcare. His desire was to create high-quality healthcare that was both convenient and affordable, as well as keeping people out of the Emergency Room. From this research, Innovative Express Care was born, and the Innovative brand then produced offspring. Innovative Covid is a part of the Innovative Care family, which also includes Innovative Ketamine, Innovative Wellness, Innovative Primary Care, Innovative Therapy and Innovative MedSpa.
The Innovative Covid location I used was recently moved from a different office because (I assume) they needed a space to accommodate the space and protocols needed for COVID testing. The address is 1111 W. Diversey Parkway, and it is a former Mini Cooper dealership- an ideal location in the city when you need to park a lot of cars.
Innovative Covid requires an appointment that you can easily make via their website. Each morning, they release an additional 160 appointment for emergency, same-day testing. They send you a confirmation email/text, as well as a registration email/text asking you to take photos of your insurance card front and back as well as the front of your driver’s license. I did this through my phone, and they had an integrated photo system in the website so I didn’t have to switch over to my camera and upload. There were about 12 (cell phone) pages of info to fill out and took me about 10 minutes.
Upon arrival at the testing site, you are directed to park in the lot in section A, B or C. You then get out of your car and walk to the registration booth. The staff confirms your appointment and asks what type of test you are there for. If you registered for the Rapid test (seems like you can add on that service even if you didn’t register for it originally), you hand over your credit card. The traditional swab test is generally covered by insurance, but the Rapid test is an additional $150 that is not covered by insurance. IF you choose the Rapid test, they automatically include the traditional swab test as well.
You then head back to your car after telling them the make, model, and section you are parked in. Promptly at my appointment time, a tech came to ask me questions, take my vitals, and swab. She asked why I was getting the test (symptoms, work, visiting family, etc…) and if I had any exposure to the virus. My temperature was taken as well as the oxygen saturation of my blood through a finger pulse oximeter. I was then instructed to lean my head back against the headrest of my seat and pull my mask down to expose my nose. Since I was getting the Rapid test, they had to swab each nostril two times. I had already heard the guy in the car next to me scream when they swabbed him, so I knew it wasn’t going to tickle. She explained the sensation well- it is like a really severe chlorine-water-up-the-nose sensation. Like, it burns and I squirmed and steeled myself against it. Not fun.
I asked the tech what she did prior to this, and she told me she was an X-ray tech. Since people didn’t want come into the hospitals, she said she thought she would go where she was needed. After the swabs, she informed me that a doctor would come and talk to me before I left. About 5 minutes later, the doctor appeared and answered any questions I had. I asked about the accuracy of the Rapid test, and she told me that if I hadn’t had any symptoms and I got a negative result, it was pretty accurate that I didn’t have the virus. My PCP told me that the Rapid test has a 25% rate of reporting a false negative. This is why they do both tests. Honestly, it seems no one knows anything for sure when it comes to COVID, and the physicians are just as frustrated as we the patients are. I thanked both the physician and the tech for helping to provide this service because they are putting their health on the line to help others.
Overall, the appointment took 15 minutes and I didn’t feel there was exposure risk at the site since I was in my car 90% of the time. They told me that I should receive results for the Rapid test in 4 hours, and definitely within 8 hours. The traditional swab results were delivered in 6-7 days. For both tests, I would be texted my results if they were negative and give a phone call if they were positive (to discuss any questions I had).
My appointment was at 11am this morning, and at around 1pm, I received a text with the news that my Rapid swab was negative.
This is what it’s like to get a COVID test! I have spoken with people in other parts of the country, and tests are not available without a doctor’s referral. I am incredibly thankful to the people who have stepped up to both create and staff these testing facilities and giving us a way to help ensure our safety and the safety of our friends and family.
Cheers to taking health into your own hands and being proactive about what you need to feel safe!