‘I break down’: The emotional toll on frontline workers at COVID-19 testing sites

'I break down': The emotional toll at COVID-19 testing sites

ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. — Health care workers are testing thousands of North Carolinians each day, but officials said setting up sites and administering tests isn’t always easy. Channel 9 got a behind-the-scenes look from Mako Medical on Thursday to learn how it turned an apartment complex parking lot into a COVID-19 testing site and the impact that testing has on frontline workers.

“I always say, ‘I’m built for this. I’m built for this.’ But no one is ever prepared for this,” said China Manning, a Mako Medical Patient Care employee.

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Manning has been distributing tests at nursing homes, businesses and testing sites since the pandemic started.

“I’m doing testing all day long,” said Manning.

Mako Medical is one of the largest COVID-19 testing labs in the country. The team works to set up sites with counties and organizations. The group set one up Thursday in Rowan County.

“We have run over 300,000 COVID PCR tests, which is the swab,” said Kristen Bennett, who is also with Mako Medical. “All of the samples collected, which they did a pretty high volume today, will be transported back to our laboratory via our military couriers and at that point, it will enter our lab and it will undergo a very specific and calculated accessioning process.”

After that, process results are entered into the system and sent out to those who tested within 48 hours.

“On the back end on what our customers see is a nice little report, which they can make medical decisions on and make patients aware of treatment if necessary and what the next steps are at that point,” Bennett said.

For those at testing sites, distributing tests each day isn’t easy.

“Doing that all day with humans over and over and over again, I don’t realize it sometimes, but there’s been times, to be honest with you, there’s times when I get in my car and I break down,” Manning said.

Manning explains one of the most difficult situations she deals with is getting questions from patients who are scared for their lives.

“I’m overwhelmed with emotions on how I feel about this because I’ve known very close people in my life who lost their lives to this,” Manning said. “I have faith that we’re going to get through this, but this is the time when we all need to get together.”

Manning said that is what keeps her going. She said testing is so important because it's the only way we can identify new cases and work to minimize the spread.

“This affects all of us, so I need all of us to get together. Please get tested, get tested, get tested. I’m here. Let’s get tested,” Manning said.

Mako Medical is working with Mecklenburg County to set up a free COVID-19 testing site on July 25 and 26.

We will update this story with the information for that testing when details become available.

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