Kaiser Health News
Houston-based Legacy Community Health Services, a federally qualified health center, is trying hard to fight the Zika virus. It’s screening pregnant women and following federal guidelines to test people at risk.
But despite best efforts, there’s a problem, says Legacy’s chief medical officer, Dr. Ann Barnes. Women who could be infected usually have to wait as long as a month to know if their pregnancy is at risk. That’s the turnaround time from the state public health lab, where blood samples are sent for testing.
“In that situation, the anxiety a pregnant woman has to live with is great,” Barnes said. “Ideally, we’d be able to speed up the process.”
It’s not just an issue in Houston. In areas where Zika poses a threat, public health departments are struggling to meet the need to test patients for the mosquito-borne virus, even for those the government has classified as “at risk.”
Doctors and health experts say last month’s approval of $1.1 billion in emergency funding by Congress — a spending package to fight the virus — could help, giving local labs the resources to efficiently determine if people have been infected. [Read more…]