A new, faster way to test residents at nursing homes in North Alabama is on the way.
Signature HealthCARE of Whitesburg Gardens is just one of more than 30 facilities to receive rapid coronavirus testing machines from the federal government.
This comes as 14 residents and five employees tested positive for coronavirus recently at the long-term care facility. Right now, the facility tests residents and employees for coronavirus once a week.
This news comes as a relief to one woman, in particular, Maureen Lokken. Her 92-year-old aunt is currently in an isolated portion of the facility after testing positive for the virus.
Lokken is not upset with Signature HealthCARE, but was concerned her aunt's weekly test results were not coming back fast enough.
"You cry a lot, you try not to," Lokken said.
Since March, Lokken has been kept out of the nursing home. A policy put in place to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
Unfortunately, it was not enough.
But before Lokken's aunt tested positive for coronavirus, she was already concerned about how long it was taking for test results to come back.
"They are sacrificing greatly, but we aren't doing what we need to do to get the resources to protect the patients," Lokken said.
She said since March, she has been in contact with the facility, and even the corporate office regarding testing. Then by the beginning of August came a victory. She said the facility began getting results back in 24 hours. However, it did not last long.
"For probably 3 weeks, we've been back to the 5 to 6 days and I'm not sure if I can speak to all the knowledge of why the corporate facility changed it," Lokken said.
However, more changes are happening. Signature HealthCARE is on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services list to receive a rapid testing machine.
A spokesperson with the Alabama Nursing Home Association said it should receive it by the end of September. This came as a sign of relief for Lokken as she awaits her aunt's recovery.
"The people that are there and with what they've got to work with, they are doing a tremendous job," Lokken said.
WAAY31 did reach out to Signature HealthCARE's corporate office and is waiting to hear back regarding the rapid testing machines.
This is just one of more than 30 nursing homes across North Alabama on the list to receive the machines.