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Approximately one year ago, when COVID-19 spread rapidly in our nation, videos and stories of the testing process were posted and shared across social media spreading anxiety and a sense of dread. The nasopharyngeal test involves a long cotton swab being inserted deep into the nostril and then rotated. Although it isn’t painful or dangerous, it is unpleasant and has made many people nervous to get tested. 


Because of this hesitancy to be tested, scientists have been working on developing an easier, faster, and more accurate method of testing. We are proud to announce that Santiam Hospital has one of two labs approved in the Pacific Northwest to provide saliva testing for COVID-19.

This method of testing is called SalivaDirect and although it is much less invasive than the nasopharyngeal test, it has nearly the same accuracy. The process involves spitting into a small test tube and then passing the sample along to a healthcare provider. The test can be obtained very quickly and the results are generally available within 24 hours of when the test is submitted. Tests submitted to the lab by 10 am on weekdays will be resulted by that evening.

SalivaDirect offers a range of benefits over existing testing methods including overall safety. The test is safer for both you and the healthcare workers in the sense that it limits the risk of exposure for both parties. SalivaDirect is 94% accurate, which is about equal to the accuracy of the nasopharyngeal test and the cost is much cheaper, making it completely affordable. Another benefit is that the saliva test is non-invasive, alleviating any anxieties the recipient might feel from participating in the process. 

If you are experiencing any of the following COVID-19 symptoms, you may consider the SalivaDirect test: 

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Some more serious warning signs of COVID -19 that need immediate medical attention include: 

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone

As a hospital, we are committed to continually providing the healthcare you deserve and are proud to offer this new method of testing to our community. We are currently running about 1,000 tests per week for our staff, as well as the student-athletes in our community who need negative test results to compete against other schools. 

“It’s kind of remarkable that our little lab in Stayton, Oregon, is using this test,” said Dr. Janine VanSant, infectious disease specialist. “We are one of the few labs in the Pacific Northwest using it.”

While we may not know when this battle with the COVID-19 virus will end, we will continually strive to do our part in this fight. We are constantly updating our safety measures, social distancing practices, and testing procedures to assist our community. If you, or anyone you know have any questions regarding the new SalivaDirect test, or have any other questions regarding updated COVID-19 procedures please feel free to reach out to us at 503-769-9213.