Coronavirus: 2 Clark County health centers begin offering drive-thru testing

Methods used to detect COVID-19 cases in Clark County are expanding as some community health centers in the area add drive-thru testing services.

The goal is to reach more people by providing easily accessible testing options. For some, it also means trying to eliminate certain barriers to health care as well as addressing segments of the population, such as African American and Latino communities, who have been disproportionately impacted by the global health crisis.

The Rocking Horse Community Health Center in Springfield began offering drive-thru testing late last week. They will have one today from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The drive-thru testing kits used by Rocking Horse are to detect those who currently have COVID-19. That type of testing is open to anyone in the area who may have symptoms or may have been exposed to the coronavirus.

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The New Carlisle Community Health Center, at 106 N. Main St., will also be offering drive-thru testing starting on Monday. It will be by appointment only and testing will be available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Those interested are asked to schedule a telehealth visit first by calling 937-667-1122. The testing will be used to detect those who currently have the virus.

The new service will not include anti-body testing, which is used to detect if a patient has had the virus in the past, said Beth West, the COO of Health Partners of Western Ohio, which operates the New Carlisle Community Health Center.

“Before this, we were not doing testing of any kind. We were having trouble getting testing supplies,” West said.

However, her organization recently received $700,000 in federal funding that was used to add testing services at its facilities throughout the state.

She said the drive-thru testing is part of an effort to expand and provide COVID-19 testing services in each of the communities her organization serves. Health Partners of Western Ohio Currently has 13 health centers across the state.

In Springfield, A total of 80 people were tested last week through Rocking Horse’s drive-thru testing services and roughly half were not patients there, according to Dr. Yamini Teegala, the health center’s chief medical officer. Another 73 people were tested earlier this week.

Teegala said a large number of cases have been reported during the pandemic in areas not far from the health center’s location at 651 South Limestone Street.

Rocking Horse has also made efforts to reach out to local African American and Latino communities as minority populations across the nation have been disproportionately impacted more by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan is to conduct drive-thru testing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays each week, with it being offered on Thursday this week due to a weather advisory Wednesday evening.

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Rocking Horse is using the lab at Dayton Children’s Hospital, which has been marked as the regional testing lab in the area. The community health center is using a private lab as well for testing results. So far, it currently takes 48 to 72 hours for results to come back, Teegala added.

The testing is free if sent to Dayton Children’s but could have a fee associated with it if sent to a private lab, representatives of Rocking Horse said. They have received testing kits from both.

However, the goal is to eliminate patient costs associated with the drive-thru testing service, Teegala added.

The New Carlisle Community Health Center is using a private lab for its testing and will be billing patient insurance. West said there will not be any out of pocket expenses for those who get tested and patients do not need to exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 in order to receive the service.

“If uninsured all expenses will be paid out of COVID relief funds,” according to a news release from the the health center.

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