Everett opens COVID-19 clinics, innovates safer swab technique


If you’ve ever had a swab stuck deep into your nose, you know how uncomfortable it can be. It might tickle your throat or make you gag. Worst of all for health care workers, the early COVID-19 testing procedure made patients “really cough and hack and sneeze.”

Aric Coffman, CEO of The Everett Clinic, an OptumCare medical group on the front line in Washington state, explains how his team realized the original testing process could possibly increase the spread of COVID-19 … and what they did about it.

Watch the video below to see how The Everett Clinic helped conduct rapid research when it mattered most.


Here’s what you need to know about The Everett Clinic’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • The Everett Clinic, part of OptumCare, had its first diagnosed case of COVID-19 in late February.
  • At first, staff members sent possible cases to separate doors at each location, but they realized there could be a better way.
  • To prevent the spread of the virus, they designated several COVID-19 clinics to exclusively test and treat patients coming in with fever, cough and other signs of respiratory infection.
  • The initial testing procedure — a deep nasal swab — made people cough and sneeze, spreading particulates into the air and putting health care workers at risk.
  • The Everett Clinic partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and UnitedHealth Group Research and Development to test a less invasive swabbing technique.
  • The life-saving research, led by Optum infectious disease expert Dr. Yuan-Po Tu, determined swabs in the middle and outside parts of the nose were just as effective at diagnosing COVID-19 as the uncomfortable deep nasal swabs.
  • The research paved the way for drive-thru stations where patients swabbed their own noses.
  • The study of roughly 500 patients lasted two weeks and changed the way people are tested all over the United States.

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One thought on “Everett opens COVID-19 clinics, innovates safer swab technique

  1. Remarkable effort by Everett Clinic, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and OptumCare to deliver safer testing so urgently needed.

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