Mobile testing comes to Cloquet


May 8, 2020

Jana Peterson

Nurse Kasie Sundeen and phlebotomist Alicia Rock demonstrate the process for testing people in cars for the COVID-19 virus. It takes about 30 seconds. Mobile testing began this week at Raiter Clinic in Cloquet.

Mobile testing for COVID-19 has arrived in Cloquet in true Northland style: a fish house.

"Technically it's a fish house with no holes," said phlebotomist Alicia Rock with a chuckle Tuesday morning. A nearby walker cracked: "They're not catching much there."

That's the goal. Detect, but don't catch.

Rock and nurse Kasie Sundeen work in full personal protective equipment - gloves, isolation gowns, goggles plus full face shields and half-face respirators - as they travel between vehicles and their grey ice fishing house in the parking lot at CMH Raiter Clinic.

A person couldn't get much more "front line pandemic" than this pair.

Dr. Charles Kendall, chairperson of the COVID-19 task force at Community Memorial Hospital, said the advice on testing is very different now that the state has an adequate number of tests.

"Anyone with symptoms to suggest Covid infection can and should get tested, regardless of how mild the symptoms," Kendall said, explaining that before the middle of last week, the recommendation was to test only those being hospitalized or in certain high-risk groups.

The process is simple.

After following the signs around the parking lot to the mobile testing site, the prospective patient must first show photo ID and confirm they have a doctor's order for the test. If they don't, Kendall said they would be directed to call from their car for a telemedicine visit with a doctor, and get an order for a test if appropriate.

The test itself takes only about 30 seconds, and involves a swab being inserted rather far up into one nostril. The tests are sent away; results are taking between 3-5 days, Kendall said. There are no out-of-pocket costs for the telemedicine visit or the tests. CMH will bill insurance if people have it, but there is no co-pay and people will not be charged if they don't have insurance.

CMH had been offering tests by advance appointment at the ambulance entrance to the emergency room at the hospital, but Kendall said they decided to set up the mobile unit to make it more convenient and efficient for the testing to get done "in a way that limits exposure for patients and staff, as they can have it all done without leaving their cars, by staff who are wearing appropriate protective equipment."

CMH Raiter isn't the only place in Cloquet offering COVID-19 testing.

MedExpress Urgent Care is providing testing to those who meet CDC-based screening criteria, and FDL Human Services is offering COVID-19 curbside testing at Min No Aya Win Human Services Center for band members. Testing is by appointment only, and is limited to those who are experiencing symptoms and who have had a telehealth visit with their Fond du Lac medical provider. Other providers are also offering greater access to testing in Duluth, including some mobile sites.

Kendall is really excited about the collaboration between the Minnesota Department of Health, Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota that is making much more testing available.

"The key to getting this pandemic under control, while still being able to allow people to go back to work and normal activities, is the ability to test," Kendall said. "If the collaboration announced by the state gives us the ability to test 20,000 people a day, we will have the capability that no other state in the nation currently has available. It will truly be a game changer."


Testing protocol

Jana Peterson

Nurse Kasie Sundeen and phlebotomist Alicia Rock are working out of an ice fishing shack in testing people in cars for the COVID-19 virus at Raiter Clinic in Cloquet.

• CMH Raiter Clinic has a mobile testing site in the parking lot from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, but a doctor’s order is necessary before testing. Call 218-879-1271 to talk to a doctor. They will also accept orders from doctors outside CMH. The CMH Nurse Hotline is available 24/7 at 218-499-6799 for advice.

• FDL Human Services has a mobile testing site by appointment only at Min No Aya Win Human Services Center. Testing will be limited to those who are experiencing symptoms and who have had a telehealth visit with their Fond du Lac medical provider. Call 218-878-2120 to schedule a visit if you’re having symptoms.

• MedExpress Urgent Care is providing COVID-19 testing at the clinic located at Pine Tree Plaza in Cloquet (by Super One). If you are seeking COVID-19 testing, visit to review the CDC-based screening criteria prior to visiting. If you believe the screening criteria apply to you, call the local clinic at 218-878-7903. Hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.


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