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'Somebody Dropped The Ball': Hoosiers Frustrated With Coronavirus Testing Waiting Game

An image of Amy Matheny, a former IU women's basketball player and current physician who thinks she might have the new coronavirus.

Amy Matheny, a former IU women's basketball player and current physician who thinks she might have the new coronavirus. (Facebook/Amy Matheny)

Indianapolis resident Amy Metheny is a former Indiana University basketball player who loves the Hoosiers. She’s also a physician.

When she started feeling tightness in her chest last Friday, she self-diagnosed her issues as being related to her asthma. She went ahead and attended IU’s game in the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament.

On Saturday she felt the tightness again and also had a cough. She blamed changes in climate from the travel she’d been doing and started herself on an antibiotic. She went to IU’s tournament game and to be cautious, sat away from other fans.

“Sunday morning I woke up with a fever of 101 and felt awful," Metheny says. "And that’s when I called the State Department the first time because I had had a ton of travel in the last few months and I had literally just gotten back. I had been at the Big Ten Basketball games on Friday.... I thought I’d better call. I didn’t want to be the doctor who spread coronavirus to the Big Ten Tournament.”

STAY UP TO DATE: Coronavirus In Indiana: The Latest

Metheny’s case illustrates problems caused by a lack of testing kits in Indiana. Her call on Sunday to the Indiana State Department of Health started a week-long, still unsuccessful quest to see if she is infected with coronavirus.

“At the time, they didn’t have anyone answering, they weren’t manning it 24 hours," she says. "What they had was basically the screenings. I’m already a physician so I already knew that which is why I called, because basically I’m high risk, I have asthma and another underlying medical condition so I thought I should call.”

They asked her if she had fever, body ache, shortness of breath, which she did.

They advised her to call her doctor Monday, which she had already planned to do.

“The nurse got the doctor on, he said you’ve traveled to California, so you should have the test," Metheny says. "He said, go to the hospital and get the test, but call them first.”

She called an Indianapolis hospital, but the hospital had no testing kits. They told her to call the State Department of Health, which she did, again. She answered screening questions and was told a supervisor would review her case and get back to her within 48 hours.

READ MORE: Likely More Than 60,000 Hoosiers Have COVID-19, Says State Health Director

She’s still waiting, but she doesn’t blame the department.

“It is not the state department’s fault. If they only have so many tests, they are just limited in what they can do," she says. "I called my doctor back Wednesday when I knew it was going to be a while and I was feeling really bad, I had done some research and found that only 2 percent have both influenza and coronavirus. So I thought, let’s check for influenza. If I’m positive, it makes it less likely I have coronavirus. We went in and checked for flu, and of course I was negative.”

Her doctor sent a second sample to a national lab. She was told she would learn the results in four days.

Metheny’s self-quarantined, not sharing a room with her wife, and her neighbors are delivering food to her door. She’s growingly frustrated with not knowing her status.

“This is why it’s so frustrating for me, because I’m trying to do the right thing, and we don’t have any testing," she says. "So if that’s the case, how many people do you think … I’m a physician, who traveled, who knows my symptoms, whose doctor thinks I need this test, and I can’t even get tested. Gosh, our medical system is better than this, but we need protocols and tests, and usually we get that from on high.”

She says she’s confident in the Centers for Disease Control.

“It is incredible, but it operates on funding, OK, it can only do as much as it’s allowed to do," Metheny says. "The best and the brightest are there. But they need funding, they need research.”

But she’s not as confident in policymakers.

“And somebody dropped the ball. I don’t know who. But somewhere in our preparedness, we dropped the ball," Metheny says. "We knew we were due for a pandemic. We knew this was going to happen. It’s not any government’s fault when it happens. But it’s really hard not to look at this and go, this was a major screw up. England’s getting a drive-through test and I’m going to be eight days before I even know.”

She expects to get test results Monday or Tuesday.

For the latest news and resources about COVID-19, bookmark our Coronavirus In Indiana page here. 

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