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Health department responds to questions about 1,220 voicemails not yet answered

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Sedgwick County on Monday had 1,220 voicemails that had not been answered through the health department. The voicemail line was for those who have questions about COVID-19 testing or test results.

Some county commissioners asked the health director about the system on Tuesday.

“I just want people to know these numbers,” said commissioner Lacey Cruse. “So when people call me and they are very, very upset about not receiving a callback, they know that our system is overloaded.”

Health Director Adrienne Byrne talked about the system being overloaded. She also said they are hiring more people.

The county has added three new positions this week to answer voicemail questions through return calls.

Byrne says the state EpiTrax system prioritizes COVID positive results out of a need to get people informed quickly. Finding the negative results can take time so people can be called back and informed they are negative.

“Testing is stressed all over the country,” Bryne told commissioners on Tuesday. “So we have found that the negatives take a little bit longer to come back at times because the labs are prioritizing the data getting entered as well because everybody is really stressed and overwhelmed. We are in a good place in calling back positives when we get those results. And again it varies depending on what lab we use.”

Byrne says the county is considering buying its own testing machines. She would like to purchase two machines. Each would cost at least $200,000.

But the county is adding more people as well.

Fifteen staff started with the county on Monday. Eight more are to start later in the week, and there will be a total of 26 added.

“We know customer service is important especially with COVID,” said Byrne. “We know everybody wants to know if they are positive or negative.”

Byrne says if a first responder or hospital worker is getting tested, and they are found to be positive, they are bumped to the front of the line to get their negative test results.

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