NHS welcomes COVID testing site


Ann Pomeroy, Newtonian Editor-in-Chief

The Kansas Department of Health and Harvey County have partnered with an organization called WellHealth in order to bring a COVID-19 testing site to the area. The site is located in the parking lot of Newton High School, 900 W. 12th Street, and will function as a drive through testing site.

Newton’s testing site is one of many planned by Kansas Governor Laura Kelly and the State of Kansas in their “Stop the Spread. It’s Up to Us, Kansas” campaign. The campaign includes the launch of the testing website GoGetTested.com/Kansas and aims to rapidly increase the state’s ability to provide COVID-19 diagnosis free of charge.

“From what we understand is the governor had a task force that selected certain areas for testing and Newton was selected based off of its general location as being a regional site,” Assistant principal Gregory Dietz said. “Plus then they must have looked around and saw that we had a huge parking lot.”

Vehicles are asked to enter the NHS parking lot from the Boyd Avenue entrance, driving north onto Boyd Avenue from 12th Street. Highway caution signs have been placed at the intersections of Meridian and 12th Street and Boyd Avenue and 12th Street in order to aid traffic. Once finished with testing, vehicles will exit the parking lot onto 12th Street.

“On Thursday [Dec. 3], the city, county, police, sheriff, myself and Harvey County Emergency systems met [at NHS] and we formulated a plan on what this could all look like, because as you can see, there’s a lot of logistics with not only the parking lot involved, but also the street, the signs, blockading things, all those things will all have to work together,” Dietz said.

The NHS testing location is anticipated to be able to conduct up to 1000 tests a day. Results are expected within 48-96 hours after testing. WellHealth conducts saliva based tests and individuals seeking testing are asked to remain in their vehicles throughout the entire process.

“As of right now, it’s pretty small. There’s only been a couple hundred or so people come in a day but it was designed to do 1000 a day, so we’ll have to wait and see what that looks like if it ever goes that far, hopefully it doesn’t,” Dietz said. 

In order to accommodate the testing site, although Newton schools are currently in the orange mode of learning, NHS staff members and student parking has been restricted. With careful consideration, Dietz managed to rearrange both student and staff parking spots to the best of his ability.

“I had to move about 48 staff members from one side of the parking lot to part of the other side of the parking lot,” Dietz said. “Then also set aside about 80 spots for students, [Hutchinson Community College] HCC students, area wide kids, and also for student athletes who will come around 3 p.m. each day.”

Testing will be conducted from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Testing will be filled through an insurance provider if available but is free to those without coverage. In order to alleviate traffic complications appointments are recommended but not required. Appointments can be scheduled through WellHealth’s website.

“If people need to get tested, we have a great place for if they’re asymptomatic, or if they have a couple symptoms,” Dietz said. “They can go to www.gogettested.com and just login and type in a zip code, and it’ll take them to Newton, and then they can sign up for their testing time.”

Testing is open to all individuals regardless of residence and test results will be sent to the individual through SMS or email.

“They looked at a general area and so for the time being anybody from [Wichita and surrounding towns] and any state actually, could just be driving through and if they want to get tested this is the place,” Dietz said.