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Baystate Health COVID-19 Testing Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to common questions about testing for COVID-19 at Baystate Health.

How many COVID-19 tests has Baystate performed?

As of September 2020, we have performed over 100,000 tests since the pandemic began this past spring. We provide testing for Baystate Health patients, employees and other vulnerable populations including nursing homes, homeless shelters, prisons, and other local/regional hospitals.

  • Approximately 80% of these tests have been performed in-house by our Baystate Reference Laboratory personnel. The other approximately 20% of testing has been referred to and performed by one of our commercial and/or external regional laboratory partners.
  • In September, we averaged about 700 tests per day.
  • We perform testing for: inpatients, emergency department patients, employees, outpatients, and clients around the state.

What is the average turnaround time for results?

For testing performed in-house, our average turnaround time (time from collection to result) continues to be well under 24 hours. This places us in the top 17% of laboratories nationwide.

We perform testing for all of our inpatient and emergency patients internally. Turnaround times are under 13 hours on our high throughput testing platforms and under 2 hours on our rapid testing platforms.

For any testing referred out, the turnaround time is under 48 hours.

What is the rate of positive COVID-19 for testing performed by Baystate?

Our overall realized incidence rate since the start of the pandemic has been trending around 1% or less, with slight week to week fluctuations.

Over the last week of September 2020, our rolling % of positive results has risen slightly to just over 1%.

What is antibody testing, and are we offering this testing to patients?

Antibody testing (also called serology testing) checks your blood by looking for antibodies, which may tell you if you had a past infection with the virus that causes COVID-19.

Antibody testing available with a referral

We currently are offering this testing to patients with a referral from their provider.

However, it is important to note that we, as well as many healthcare organizations including the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, do not recommend the diagnostic use of antibody testing for COVID-19 at this time.

Antibodies indicate exposure but not immunity.

The Centers for Disease Control, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the American Medical Association recommend against using antibody testing to determine immunity – warning patients against changing behavior in response to a positive antibody test.

Do we offer or plan to offer alternative COVID-19 testing (other than nasal swab testing)?

We offer the most clinically proven testing: nasal swab testing.

We continue to offer/promote the most clinically proven and effective COVID-19 testing, which is PCR (nasal swab) testing.

We are not offering saliva testing for COVID-19 at this time.

Our current in-house testing platforms have not yet been approved to perform this type of testing; nor are many of our external referral laboratory partners offering this testing.

We will continue to monitor data regarding the clinical efficacy of saliva testing, as well as the possibility of performing in-house and/or referring to a partner laboratory at a future date.

We are not offering antigen testing at this time.

Initial clinical data has suggested higher false negative results than PCR testing. However, we are assessing various options to bring testing in-house and/or refer to one of our external referral laboratory partners.



How is Baystate helping to support the testing needs of members of our local/regional community?

As noted, Baystate is operating 6 ambulatory COVID-19 specimen collection sites throughout the region; promoting accessibility for members of local/regional communities
Additionally, Baystate continues to partner with state officials (MA Stop the Spread Campaign), city officials, as well as local organizations to coordinate special testing events to help bring testing, as well as education (via our WOW Bus) regarding safety and social distancing practices, to neighborhoods most challenged with accessing testing

How can I get tested for COVID-19?

We are operating specimen collection sites around the region. Find those locations here.

Do I need an order?

Yes, an order from a referring provider is required.Your referring provider will help determine if you need a test, and will communicate the test results to you and handle the follow up as needed.

Do I have to schedule an appointment or can I walk in?

Yes, you do need an appointment to get tested. So that we can keep everyone safe with appropriate social distancing, ensure the most efficient experience for patient and staff, and maintain available testing for the most urgent patient needs, an appointment is required.

To schedule an appointment, please call 413-795-TEST.

How will I receive my results and in what timeframe?

You can receive your results in two ways:

  1. From your ordering provider, and/or
  2. Via the MyBaystate patient portal, your results will be available within 48 hours.

Sign Up for MyBaystate

How is Baystate helping to support the testing needs of members of our local/regional community?

Baystate is operating testing sites throughout the region, making testing more accessible for members of local communities.

Baystate also continues to partner with state officials (MA Stop the Spread Campaign), city officials, as well as local organizations to coordinate special testing events to help bring testing and education (via our WOW Bus) to neighborhoods most challenged with accessing testing.

Can I get tested if I'm uninsured?

Yes. We bill the federal government for uninsured patients.

How much does testing cost?

$125 is our standard charge, which is covered by insurance in most cases. We will bill your insurance, so you will not be charged at the time of testing. You may want to contact your insurance company to confirm your coverage beforehand.

What information can testing provide?

In general, getting a test for COVID-19 will only give you information about a single point in time. Any one of us can be exposed and become infected at any point during this pandemic.

If you receive a negative test today, we can only know that you are not infected right now.