St. Charles not yet providing or recommending antibody tests

St. Charles President and CEO Joe Sluka said in a weekly update email the hospital is not yet offering or recommending antibody testing, although the hospital has been receiving many questions about it.

Antibody tests are meant to detect a person’s immunity level to COVID-19.

Sluka referenced information released from the Deschutes County Health Services, which said there are no Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved antibody tests available in Central Oregon.

The Deschutes County Health Services said there are not many antibody tests approved by the FDA on the market and antibody tests have “limited effectiveness” for diagnosing an active COVID-19 infection.

Sluka also referenced information from the World Health Organization, which said it’s risky to rely on antibody tests as a way to decide whether social distancing measures should be relaxed.

“For these reasons, St. Charles is not offering or recommending antibody testing at this time,” Sluka said. “However, we will continue to closely monitor the situation and provide updates as soon as more information becomes available.”

St. Charles has expanded virus testing criteria to include more people in recent weeks. The hospital is also planning to offer more surgeries and health services beginning May 1, since Gov. Kate Brown relaxed parts of her executive order last week.

The hospital has a panel of experts reviewing surgery requests to figure out whose surgery should go first, Sluka said. But they will be keeping an eye on COVID-19 numbers as they move forward with planning surgeries.

“It is also critical to note that if we start to see an uptick in COVID-19 cases in our community, or we start to run low on supplies, we will take a step back,” Sluka said.



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