NEWS RELEASE | March 16, 2020
To help identify cases of COVID-19, NIHD has established drive-in testing for coronavirus at the District’s Rural Health Clinic (RHC).
Dr. Stacey Brown, Family Physician and Medical Director of the RHC, said, “We are pleased to announce that the new service line allows for prompt screening for coronavirus through a series of directed questions by telephone and then subsequent testing for infection on campus if indicated. The drive-in testing concept extends the current Same Day service line to the parking lot adjacent to the clinic.”
The drive-in helps to keep current patients and medical staff safe from a potential infection since suspect cases safely remain in their vehicles instead of in waiting rooms during testing. “Since coronavirus testing has become commercially available, we can safely obtain a patient sample and send it out of town for testing. This greatly helps the local health department and regional healthcare partners with surveillance and management of infected patients,” he said.
Dr. Brown said the drive-in operates during regular clinic hours, 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday. RHC nurses and providers will staff the drive-in. Dr. Brown said the drive-in is open to District residents who meet current CDC definitions for screening. Those definitions currently include travel history, documented coronavirus exposure, as well as specific symptoms like fever and cough.
“To safely and efficiently handle patients, the drive-in will function like the Same Day service with scheduled appointment times to see a provider rather than an on-demand traffic jam,” Brown said. “Please do not show up at the clinic in your car without calling ahead of time.”
Eligibility to be seen at the drive-in starts with a pre-screening telephone interview with a clinical staff member. A determination of the patient’s risk status follows and then scheduling an appointment slot for the parking lot if indicated. Patients will be greeted outside of the clinic at the appropriate time by the provider and care team in personal protective equipment (PPE), interviewed briefly, and a nose or mouth swab obtained.
Before leaving, the patients will receive information on protecting themselves and others while awaiting their results at home. Information will be shared with the Inyo County Health Department for community surveillance and follow up as needed. “We hope the turnaround time on the test will be prompt, but the send-out lab may take a while for the result,” Dr. Brown said.
“If you think you might have a coronavirus infection, call your primary care provider first. If your provider thinks you need to be tested and cannot test you there, have them contact the RHC at (760) 873-2849, and we may be able to help,” Dr. Brown said.