KDHE Mobile Testing Unit Benefits Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation

Kansas National Guard medics test a Prairie Band Community member during the KDHE mobile testing event held at the Potawatomi Tribal Fire Department.

7.16.20 | By Michelle Simon

Over the course of three days, 153 people in the Prairie Band community were able to receive free COVID-19 testing. A mobile testing unit was established at the Potawatomi Tribal Fire Department located on the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Common Land. Testing was completed by 13 Kansas National Guard medics and two Kansas Department of Health and Environment staff.

Testing began on Thursday, July 9, 2020, in the late afternoon, running from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. with many participants arriving at the end of their workday. Two sessions were held on Friday, July 10, a morning session from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and another late afternoon session from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. which saw the most use. Saturday, July 11, testing was available from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Test swabs were kept onsite in the mobile unit and at the end of each day were taken to the KDHE labs for processing. Results indicated 3 positives and 150 negative tests.

Planning for the event began in early June, when Dr. Farah Ahmed, KDHE State Epidemiologist approached Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation about a new resource, the KDHE mobile testing unit which provides COVID-19 testing to underserved communities. Approximately 1600 people reside within the boundary of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation in a rural setting located within Jackson County, Kansas.

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation which had only seen 4 positive COVID-19 cases in the community up until the testing event, were interested in participating due to their ongoing commitment to the health and wellbeing of the tribal members and the local community. Providing free access to testing increases testing numbers, which is an additional tool to help slow the potential spread of COVID-19.

The Potawatomi Tribal Fire Department was instrumental in coordinating the event in conjunction with the PBPN Tribal Council, Administration, Health Center, Tribal Police Department, Kansas National Guard, and the KDHE. Potawatomi Tribal Fire and the Prairie Band Police Departments handled and executed the logistics of the event, which had next to no wait times for participants.

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Participants were directed to the back side of the Potawatomi Tribal Fire Department where three traffic lanes were established for quick entry into the bay area where testing occurred.


Potawatomi Tribal Fire Department Chief Doug Schreiner (Center) discusses logistics with PTFD staff and KDHE representatives.


Potawatomi Tribal Fire Department Chief Doug Schreiner and Kansas Department of Health & Environment State Epidemiologist Dr. Farah Ahmed were instrumental in the coordination of this successful community-wide testing event.