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Port St. Lucie woman frustrated with barriers for coronavirus testing

Posted at 12:01 AM, Mar 14, 2020

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — How can you be tested if you think you have the coronavirus? Many local patients say they are facing obstacles when it comes to that answer.

From her bed and in self isolation, Lori Saridakis is concerned she may have the coronavirus. She says she was flying back home on an international flight and in the row behind her sat a visibly sick passenger.

"They didn't stop her from boarding that plane with visible symptoms; coughing and blowing the nose and everything else. Everybody is looking around," said Saridakis, who lives in Port St. Lucie.

Days later the coughing and fever started. She says her doctor tested her for the the flu but that test came back negative.

"The Health Department faxed over a questionnaire, we went through it and as he went through it checking off all the symptoms that I had, he said wow, you really need to be tested but we're not prepared for this," she said.

And that response is echoing several local doctor's offices. During a Facebook live interview on the coronavirus Friday evening,Dr. Luis Pena-Hernandez, a pulmonologist, said getting the kits has been a challenge.

"We were expecting them today, in fact we were just notified that is probably going to be a couple more days till they are available," said Pena-Hernandez.

And other viewers jumped in and revealed they too are experiencing the same issue. Pena-Hernandez says not everyone who shows symptoms will be tested.

Saridakis was told to call the health department by her doctor. and went back and forth between two county health departments.

"They told me I need to call my doctor. I call my doctor back and he's like no, you need to call the health department," she said. "It's been very frustrating, especially because I don't feel well at all and I'm trying to do the right thing and self-quarantine myself because if this is something that's spreadable, I don't want to be responsible for giving it to other people. I haven't even had anybody in my house for 10 days. I've been here."

Based on Pena-Hernandez' answers, Saridakis is doing the right thing by self-isolating. He says if you do experience severe symptoms, that's when you should go to the emergency room or if you know you have underlying health conditions.

Dr. Alina Alonso, the director of Palm Beach County's Health Department, said Friday they are working with more providers to do these tests.