LSU-Health Shreveport continues COVID-19 testing in underserved communities; non-profit stresses importance of service

LSU-Health Shreveport continues COVID-19 testing in underserved communities; non-profit stresses importance of service
(Source: KEYC News Now)

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - As coronavirus cases continue on a concerning trend following Thanksgiving — LSU Health Shreveport has worked tirelessly to bring COVID-19 testing to communities most in need of this service.

100 Men of Shreveport, a nonprofit whose mission during “normal” times is to serve as a mentorship organization, believes maintaining COVID-19 testing in underserved areas is vital, so the public can mitigate the spread of the virus.

Victor Gray, vice president of 100 Men of Shreveport, said LSU Health Shreveport’s months-long efforts effort to ramp up testing has allowed residents, who may not otherwise have access to a test, the knowledge of whether or not they contracted the virus - which could save lives.

“Some people don’t have the ability or the resources to get out to places, so we wanted to bring those tests to them,” Gray added.

Though new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to rise across the country and around Louisiana, the LSU Health Shreveport Strike Testing Team has stayed on the frontlines in the fight against the virus, allowing anyone to receive a COVID test. Thousands of tests have been processed in the institution’s Emerging Viral Threat (EVT) lab from within the community, including 95 percent of the nursing homes in North Louisiana, as well as first responders.

The Caddo Parish Commission is also responsible for initial funding, which played an irreplaceable role in establishing the availability of tests.

Gray said he is immensely grateful for the personnel and resources LSU Health Shreveport, the City of Shreveport and others provide on a daily basis to make this hefty operation a reality.

“We’ve had a lot of great partners in the community that stepped up and helped us,” he said. “We appreciate them for bringing these services to our people.”

In fact, according to LSU Health Shreveport, one of every three tests taken in North Louisiana is processed in the EVT lab, which was the first in North Louisiana to be approved by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to “conduct and analyze tests to determine if an individual has COVID-19.”

Just on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2,774 cases of COVID-19 were added to the state’s grand total of 244,078. 1,325 people remain hospitalized in Louisiana with COVID-19, an increase of 729 since early November.

Gray believes there is a disparity between ‘frontline’ workers and ‘essential’ workers. He added that just because someone works in an essential role does not mean they either have insurance or can afford to pay for an oft pricey coronavirus test.

“What ends up happening is that you have somebody who is exposed, but they have a trade-off: ‘Do I spend $200 on a test, or do I pay my light bill?”

He also added that the benefit of knowing outweighs the discomfort of the test.

“It only takes a couple of seconds, a couple of deep breaths.”

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