„Which is your favorite nostril?“ Pharmacist Karl Bedau‘s routine of more than 1000 quick tests is noticeable. Since Monday, the head of the Löwen pharmacy in Hüls and his team have been testing employees for Covid-19 on the premises of Peters in Kempen. It is not the first rapid test for chemical laboratory assistant Frank Krupka either, who opts for the left nostril. „I have already been tested when visiting my aunt in assisted living,“ says the 51-year-old who has been working at Peters for 25 years. The stick in the nostril is answered by a tear in the eyes – otherwise everything is no problem.
The employee from Mönchengladbach is one of the first to accept the free offer from Peters. Like all others, Frank Krupka has already filled in the questionnaire in advance, so the queue outside the company’s social building is moving quickly. Divided into blocks of five, everything proceeds in an orderly manner. At the window, Frank Krupka is greeted by pharmacist Karl Bedau who is wearing a dove-blue protective suit. It takes less than 90 seconds for all the formalities to be completed and the actual test to be carried out. Sitting behind the pharmacist, student assistant Morten Pickert enters the data into the computer. Fifteen minutes later, Frank Krupka – back at his desk – receives the result on his mobile phone. The QR code tells the employee that he has tested negative.
„Everything is documented, but absolutely anonymously. The employer only finds out how many people took part and how many tests turned out negative or positive,“ says Tilman Sehlen. The graduate engineer for occupational safety and environmental protection heads the Corona steering committee at Peters. Just now – it is now shortly after 8 a.m. – the engineer has received his own test result on his smartphone – also negative.
„If a test result is positive, the employee is obliged, according to the Covid-19 Test Quarantine Ordinance of North-Rhine Westphalia, to undergo a PCR test at a recognized center,“ says Tilman Sehlen. The pharmacist who carried out the test on the premises must report a positive result to the competent health authority. The positive person must immediately go into quarantine. „Should the employee in question not be able to work from home, he/she receives state compensation until the end of the quarantine, which is initially paid by the employer,“ reports the head of the Corona steering committee.
Since the Covid-19 tests are voluntary with the employer, Frank Krupka and his colleagues have to clock out. „By presenting a negative test result, employees are granted access to many shops, museums, do-it-yourself stores, etc.“, says Peters Managing Director Ralf Schwartz, mentioning one of the advantages presented by rapid testing – apart from the health aspect. Ralf Schwartz is satisfied with the response and the lively participation in the employer‘s voluntary offer. „It shows that everyone is insightful, recognizes the added value and is interested in getting the annoying Corona time over with as quickly as possible.“
Containment is the goal
On a Monday, already before 10 a.m., the figures of the test kick-off at Peters are available: 44 voluntarily tested – 44 negative test results. The next batch will arrive a few days later at Hooghe Weg 13 in Kempen. Ralf Schwartz, who is also chairman of the Lower Rhine Entrepreneurs‘ Association: „Our practical example shows what is possible for an SME like Peters if you organize it sensibly with a professional partner like a pharmacy.“
The Krefeld command bridge of the Lower Rhine Entrepreneurs‘ Association, the mouthpiece for about 800 companies in the region, sees it exactly the same way. „We expressly support the voluntary testing offered by employers. It contributes to occupational safety and health in the company,“ says General Manager Kirsten Wittke-Lemm. The more opportunities are offered to detect the treacherous virus and its mutants, the greater the chance of successfully containing the pandemic. The companies in Krefeld, Viersen, Kleve, Wesel, Neuss, Mönchengladbach and elsewhere are making their contribution to this, the Lower Rhine employers‘ association is convinced.