A visitors' parking garage adjacent to St. Mary’s hospital took on additional importance Tuesday. There, on the first floor, a temporary COVID-19 screening station has been set up. It will operate from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., seven days a week, allowing anyone with a prescription to be tested.
Seeking to expedite the screening process St. Mary’s Hospital is one of several hospitals around the state offering drive-through, COVID-19 testing centers.
“The objective of our drive-through testing center is to flatten the curve,” said Dr. Paul Porter, chief medical officer at St. Mary’s Hospital.
Drive through stations have been installed outside hospitals to create a more efficient way to test potential patients. They also allow hospitals to test while preventing potentially infected people from entering the hospital. The goal is clear.
“To get people screened and then treated so that our healthcare facilities are not overwhelmed at the same time,” explained Porter.
It’s a streamlined process, allowing medical professionals to quickly screen those with respiratory symptoms.
“We register you. We take you down to another station, where a nurse will get you out of your vehicle, will swab you and then send you home with discharge instructions,” said St. Mary’s Hospital Infection Prevention Coordinator Kim O’Meara.
At Hartford Hospital Tuesday, 82 patients were registered to be screened. There, samples were taken while patients remained in their car. Results will be communicated to the patient within four days, by the patient’s doctor.
Hartford Healthcare requires drive-through patients to have a referral through a Hartford Healthcare Medical Group provider. A prescription is required at other hospitals too.
“Just don’t show up if you don’t need to show up,” said O’Meara. “Call and your physician can give you a prescription to come here and be tested.”
St. Mary’s officials emphasized that these drive through stations are only screening stations. If you need immediate treatment for respiratory symptoms and need to go to the emergency department, they say you should first call first. They ask you make an appointment, so they can take can prepare before potentially infected patients enter the hospital.
“The reason for that is there are many cancer patients, heart patients and lung patients who we know are vulnerable,” explained Porter.
Hospitals approved to have drive-through screening include: Bridgeport, Bristol Health, Danbury, Greenwich, Hartford, St. Francis (Hartford), St. Mary’s (Waterbury), Stamford Health, Waterbury and Yale New Haven. More locations are expected to be added.