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Ricketts highlights swift setup of Test Nebraska Central Lab, proclaims May as “Nurses Month” in Nebraska

Staff Writer
Syracuse Journal-Democrat

At his daily coronavirus press briefing on May 5, Governor Pete Ricketts thanked CHI Health for swiftly setting up a laboratory to help run coronavirus tests for Nebraskans.  Swabs taken at Test Nebraska mobile testing sites will be delivered to the CHI Health lab in Lincoln for analysis.

Derek Vance, President of CHI Health St. Elizabeth and Nebraska Heart, joined the Governor to talk about the laboratory.  He noted that the lab can run 24/7 with the capacity to process 3,000 tests per day once testing is fully ramped up.

At the press conference, Gov. Ricketts also designated May 6-12, 2020, as National Nurses Week in Nebraska.  Additionally, he proclaimed the entire month of May as National Nurses Month in the state.  Dr. Kari Wade, President-Elect of the Nebraska Nurses Association, spoke about the vital work being done by nurses throughout the state during the ongoing pandemic.

Gov. Ricketts: Test Nebraska Update

  • 123,000 Nebraskans have taken about 153,000 assessments at TestNebraska.com as of this morning.
  • Test Nebraska mobile testing sites successfully launched in Grand Island and Omaha on Monday.  Testing will continue in these communities today.
  • I want to thank CHI Health for their partnership in the Test Nebraska initiative.
    • CHI Health is hosting the lab we are using for Test Nebraska.
    • They calibrated and validated their lab equipment in record time.
    • Usually this process takes months, but they got it done in days.
    • CHI Health is also helping to run Test Nebraska’s mobile testing site in Omaha.
  • More mobile testing sites will be announced in the near future.
  • Everyone who signed up with Test Nebraska received a follow up email on Sunday night asking them to update their assessment.
    • If you haven’t done so already, please update your assessment.
    • Symptoms can develop quickly, and we will ask people to provide updates on their health from time to time as needed.
  • Again, the website for the health assessment is TestNebraska.com.

Derek Vance: CHI St. Elizabeth Laboratory

  • St. Elizabeth has served Nebraska and the city of Lincoln for over 120 years.
  • When the Governor called to ask if we would stand up a central laboratory to support Test Nebraska, we were honored to answer that call.
  • We’ve been working around the clock, with our staff and State resources, to get the laboratory ready.
  • Normally, it would take several weeks—even months—to set up and validate the equipment.  In just under a week of hard work, we are now validated and ready to go.
  • We’ve received new equipment, such as robotics, to enable us to do the large number of tests.  All of this has been funded by the State of Nebraska.
  • The capacity of the lab will be up to 3,000 tests per day.
  • The lab will be staffed 24/7.  The Nebraska State Patrol will transport specimens from mobile testing sites to CHI Health St. Elizabeth.

Dr. Kari Wade: Recognizing Nebraska’s Nurses

  • I’ve been a registered nurse in Nebraska for 20 years. 
  • Nursing is a very noble profession.  There’s a reason why Gallup polls have recognized nursing as the most honest and ethical profession for the last 18 consecutive years.
  • Nurses are strong, compassionate, and caring.
  • Never has caring required more courage, selflessness, and strength than it has over the past few months.
  • Never has caring put ourselves and our families at such high risk.
  • This week and this month, we celebrate nurses and all those who work alongside us.
  • Thanks to our nurses for being strong and courageous during this time.

Gov. Ricketts: National Nurses Week

  • May is National Nurses Month, and May 6 through 12 is National Nurses Week.
  • Every day, nurses across Nebraska are delivering the care we need to keep people healthy.
  • Now more than ever, nurses are investing themselves in the well-being of Nebraskans.
  • They are taking care of Nebraskans suffering from coronavirus at great risk to themselves.
  • On behalf of all Nebraskans, I want to extend my gratitude to nurses everywhere.

Gov. Ricketts: HUD Funding

  • The CARES Act provided an additional $685,000,000 for the Public Housing Operating Fund to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.”
  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has allocated $2.5 million to Nebraska.
  • These funds are going to housing authorities across the state.
  • More information can be found at www.hud.gov.