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A Case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in O'Brien County

COVID-19 Diagnosis Tips and Procedures


A Case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in O'Brien County

A case of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has been confirmed in O'Brien County. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), the individual is an adult female in the age range of 41 to 60, and the individual is self-isolating at home.

"While this is O'Brien County's first case, it may not be the last, and that's why we encourage all residents to continue to make prevention a priority," said O'Brien County Public Health Director, Judy Nieuwenhuis.

Suspected cases will go through channels established by the CDC for diagnosis confirmation. The State Hygienic Laboratory or the Sanford Lab will perform COVID-19 testing in accordance with one of the following criteria (these criteria may broaden as the pandemic expands and additional testing resources become available) with results reported to the public health of the originating state.

Patients who present with symptoms, as outlined by CDC, and have recently traveled to a region experiencing high infection or been in close proximity with someone who has traveled to affected areas, are immediately isolated." Testing criteria specified on the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) website as of March 30, 2020 are and are consistent nationally:

• All hospitalized patients (of any age) with fever and respiratory illness

• Older adults (>60 years of age) with fever and respiratory symptoms (cough, difficulty breathing) and chronic medical conditions (e.g. diabetes, heart disease, immunosuppressive medications, chronic lung disease, or chronic kidney disease)

• Persons of any age with fever or respiratory illness who live in congregate setting (i.e., long term care facilities, dormitories, residential facilities, correctional facilities, treatment facilities)

• Healthcare workers, essential services personnel, first responders and critical infrastructure workers with fever or respirator illness (ex. Healthcare workers, fire and EMS, law enforcement, residential facility staff)

Symptoms of Covid-19 are cough, shortness of breath, fever and diarrhea. The presence of symptoms does not automatically qualify a patient for testing.

A healthcare provider will be following channels by submitting a specimen of a patient meeting testing criteria to the State Hygienic Lab using appropriate COVID-19 test request form. A request for clarification of what constitutes travel was not provided. 

MercyOne in Primghar and Sanford in Sheldon offer telehealth visits to keep patients and healthcare workers safe. You may go to your Sanford online at mysanfordchart.com to make contact with a healthcare provider. At Mercy call your clinic and that person will determine if a telehealth conference or visit is "best at this time."


COVID-19 Testing is available for MercyOne patients or Sanford patients but a physician order from a healthcare provider is required.

The cost of testing at the State Hygienic Lab is assigned to the public health system. Prior approval by IDPH is no longer required for submission to the State Hygienic Lab, but to conserve resources, healthcare providers are asked to submit specimens from patients meeting the above testing criteria.

Healthcare providers can have samples if any patient tested for COVID-19 at national reference laboratories. Payment for these tests will be charged to the patient. In the case of a positive test from a national reference lab, the healthcare provider is to provide that information to IDPH before notifying the patient.

MercyOne Primghar Medical Center and Primghar, Paullina, Sutherland and hartley Family Medicine clinics as well as Sanford Sheldon and its associated clinics throughout O'Brien County and northwest Iowa continue to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as local public health authorities to provide the safest possible environment for patients, families, visitors and colleagues. In order to assist with keeping the safest possible environment for patients and caregivers alike, please call before arriving to a healthcare facility.

"We ask that for any of your health needs that you call your primary care physician's office prior to arrival," stated Marcy Peterson, Marketing Coordinator – Public Relations with MercyOne. Media Relations personnel for Sanford echoed the same message,"Call before you come."

Regular visits

You can still see your regular healthcare provider, nurse and/or lab technician for routine checkups, such as blood pressure checks, lab draws, medication refills, non-emergent injuries, chronic disease management, immunizations and any non-Covid 19 related illness. Covid-19 symptoms: cough, shortness of breath, fever or diarrhea. Please call ahead.


For your safety, all MercyOne and Sanford patients (or guests) will be screened before entrance into any clinic. MercyOne asks that only one guest accompany a patient. Sanford does not allow visitors at this time with just 2 exceptions: birth and end of life. In each case just 1 guest at a time inside the hospital is permitted. For COVID-19 end of life the visitor will be completely suited up and required to quarantine for 14 days following the visit.

The message is consistent: keep distance between yourself and all others.


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