Q & A: Dr. Alexandra Franco talks about COVID-19 testing in Kern County

April 1, 2020 /

Clinica Sierra Vista is an important health care provider in Kern County. The Clinica Sierra Vista system is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). The organization has been serving the primary medical, dental and behavioral health needs of residents in Kern County for more than four decades. 

Kern Sol News spoke with Dr. Alexandra Franco, MD, an internal medicine physician who is an expert in infectious diseases. Here, she talks about what’s being done locally with COVID-19 testing. 

Q: Who can get tested for COVID-19? 

A: We advise that if the patients have any symptoms that they should call first, and we will assess the symptoms over the phone, and then if they meet criteria for testing, they will be directed to a command center or a center with the testing kits. We want to have patients to call first before coming into a clinic.

Q: Is testing free?

A: It is free, and the Clinca is offering testing to patients who are uninsured as well. 

Q: How many people have been tested so far in your clinics?

A: About 300-400, and we are continuing to do them every day. 

Q: What symptoms should people be aware of before calling to ask about being tested? 

A: Anyone who has had direct contact with any person who is a confirmed positive or with someone who is suspected of having COVID-19 should be tested. Or if you have, or a fever, cough or shortness of breath, you should be tested as well. But please call us first, unless you are having severe symptoms. 

Q: Why is it important for people to remain in their homes? 

A: Mainly because we are trying to achieve two main goals. The first is to decrease community spread, and the second is to protect the vulnerable population, people who are older or who have underlying conditions. 

Q: Can undocumented people get tested? 

A: Yes. 

Q: What if I live with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19? How do I take precautions to protect myself while living in the same home?  

A: If you have been swabbed or are waiting for results or have tested positive for COVID-19, we recommend that you try to self isolate in the home. If it’s possible, use a separate bedroom and a bathroom, use disinfectants and cleaning solutions to wipe down counters, doors, and other items. Try to clean every surface that you touch, wear a mask at all times at home to protect other family members, and do not leave home. You and your family should be aware of any severe symptoms like shortness of breath, loss of consciousness, or dizziness. If the patient experiences these symptoms, they need to go to the emergency room as soon as possible. 

Q: Is your team at Clinica Sierra Vista fully bilingual? 

A: Yes, our clinics have people who speak both English and Spanish. We also have a language line that has a virtual medical translation service that provides translators in 150 languages, so we pretty much have the population that we serve covered with language access.