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Remarks by HealthPartners CEO Andrea Walsh at Gov. Walz COVID-19 briefing regarding testing expansion

April 22, 2020

As CEO at HealthPartners – where we serve 1.2 million patients and 1.8 million health plan members – I applaud and thank Governor Walz for his leadership in advancing a vision for statewide COVID-19 testing.

In recent weeks, social distancing has helped us slow the spread of disease and given us the time we need to get ready. Looking forward, expanding testing and contact tracing is a necessary building block to help us work towards re-opening Minnesota.

We need this public/private partnership to expand COVID-19 testing and implement stronger tracing and isolation processes. It’s crucial for several reasons:

  • It will help us prevent spread of disease and keep others healthy.
  • It will expand access to care for patients without COVID-19, who may have been delaying care they need.
  • We’ll also be able to expand testing while we continue testing needed to protect our doctors, nurses and care teams. For example:
    • When a caregiver gets a negative test result, they can get back to the bedside instead of being quarantined for 14 days.
    • A negative test also helps us know when to use personal protective equipment and when we can save it for the greatest need.

In Minnesota we have the best health systems in the world. We collaborate and compete with each other, and by doing that, we improve quality and health for our communities in Minnesota. We’re seeing that today.

At HealthPartners, for example, we have deep capabilities to reach people and collect and process tests. As the pandemic began, we created drive-thru testing centers as well as dedicated respiratory care centers.

And we want to do more. One of our key challenges has been securing testing supplies. We expect that the new Central Lab capability that we’re creating together will solve that problem.

The reality is, no health system can do a project of this scale alone. We need each other.

At HealthPartners we’re proud to be part of this work and ready to do our part.

Thank you.

About HealthPartners

Founded in 1957, the HealthPartners family of health care companies serves more than one million medical and dental health plan members nationwide. It is the largest consumer-governed, nonprofit health care organization in the nation, providing care, coverage, research and education to improve the health of members, patients and the community.

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