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Iowa woman's TestIowa sample damaged, was turned away when she tried to get retested

The state told Dr. Kathleen Gannon she could get retested after her TestIowa sample was damaged. When she got to her appointment, she was sent away.

DES MOINES, Iowa — An Ankeny woman is among those who had their TestIowa samples damaged. 

The state announced last week that a small number of TestIowa samples had been damaged, and said people could be retested if they were impacted. 

When Dr. Kathleen Gannon went to go get retested, the nurse on site turned her away because she had already been tested. 

How Dr. Gannon qualified for testing

Dr. Gannon lost her dad to COVID-19 on April 17. 

Robert Ascheman, who was 93, got diagnosed with COVID-19 on April 15. 

Just 48 hours later, the virus took his life. 

"The morning of April 15 at about 9 a.m., I received a call that my father was one of three residents there that had fever and cough," Dr. Gannon said. 

Dr. Gannon was told she had two options: Send Ascheman to the hospital or treat him at the skilled care facility he was currently at in an isolation unit. 

"I said, 'At 93, he does not want to go to the hospital. He made that very clear to us,'" Dr. Gannon said. 

So Ascheman was taken to an isolation unit. His six children weren't able to visit unless it was an end-of-life situation due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

Later that same day, around 4 p.m. on April 15, Dr. Gannon got a difficult call. 

"His condition worsened to the point where they said that I could come and visit," Dr. Gannon said. 

A day and a half later, Ascheman passed away with Dr. Gannon, his oldest daughter, by his side. 

"He died while I was in attendance," Dr. Gannon said. "I was very, very grateful to be there. I had full PPE gear on. The staff was was very helpful. I was very grateful to be there. Many people don't get to say goodbyes [because of coronavirus restrictions], but I was able to be with them. In fact, as a physician, I was able to pronounce my father's death, as I was my mother's in 2010."

Credit: Kathleen Gannon

The day Gov. Kim Reynolds announced the launch of TestIowa, Dr. Gannon took the assessment and qualified. 

Getting tested: 'I was in and out in 5-10 minutes'

Dr. Gannon got her test on April 28. 

"The National Guard and the nurses at the site were excellent; it was very smooth," Dr. Gannon said. "I was in and out in five to 10 minutes." 

Being in the medical field herself, Dr. Gannon wasn't concerned when days had passed with no results. 

"Knowing that there were thousands of tests that were being run, I wasn't alarmed by that, just anxious to get my test results," Dr. Gannon said. "I had been exposed to an active case. I really felt that I should be tested due to several risk factors myself as well."

Five days after getting tested, Dr. Gannon got an email saying the lab got her sample on May 3 at 9:51 a.m.

On May 7, Dr. Gannon got another email telling her the sample was damaged. 

"Your test kit has arrived at the lab and has been determined to be damaged or otherwise unable to be used as an effective sample for a test," the email read. 

The email offered an option to sign up to get retested and Dr. Gannon signed up for an appointment on the morning of May 8. 

Dr. Gannon gets turned away after signing up to get retested

But when she arrived at the test site, Dr. Gannon was turned away. 

"They said, 'Did you get tested before?' I said, 'I did. Mine was one of the samples that were damaged,'" Dr. Gannon said. "They were just going with the information that they had. They had information that I put in it wouldn't accept the code." 

Dr. Gannon said she understands test samples get damaged from time to time. 

"There's a number of things I can happen, and I totally understand that," Dr. Gannon said. 

She just wanted to know what she can do to get the test she qualified for. 

"All I'm asking is a process so that people know what to do if this happens," Dr. Gannon said. 

Local 5's Rachel Droze reached out to the governor's office to see if they were aware of this problem. 

As of 10:30 p.m. Monday, they hadn't responded. 

Dr. Gannon also received a questionable email on May 7 when she signed up to be retested. 

May 7 at 10:44 p.m., the same minute Dr. Gannon got an email confirming her appointment time for May 8, she received an email saying her sample had been received by the lab. 

That of course, wouldn't make sense since she wasn't scheduled to give a new sample until the following morning. 

Dr. Gannon's Exposure and Testing Timeline: 

  • April 17 - Exposed to COVID-19
  • April 21 - Took assessment and qualified for TestIowa testing
  • April 25 - Signed up for testing after having to wait for time slot to open
  • April 28 - Got tested at TestIowa site
  • May 3 - Got email saying her TestIowa sample arrived at lab
  • *May 7 - Got email saying her test was damaged, rescheduled test
  • May 8 - Went to get tested at scheduled time, but was turned away

*May 7 after signing up for testing, Dr. Gannon also received an email saying her results had been received by the lab. She hadn't been tested a second time and she doesn't know why that email was sent.


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