published on April 7, 2020 - 2:57 PM
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In an effort to expedite testing for COVID-19, hospitals in the Central Valley are making it so those potentially infected won’t even have to leave the car. 

Since last month, Madera Community Hospital has been relying on drive-up testing for the coronavirus. According to Dr. Terrance McGovern, the ER medical director for Madera Community, the hospital has set aside a designated area outside the emergency room. Patients phone ahead at the reference of the Madera County Department of Public Health. When the patient arrives, they are met by a nurse in full personal protective equipment and are swabbed.

At its peak, Madera Community was seeing upwards of 20 to 30 people a day, McGovern added.

“It’s been working really well,” he said. “It sounds like patients are happy with it. It’s convenient for them as well, so it has been a nice process that we have been able to implement here at the hospital.”

Kaweah Delta Medical Center is also doing drive-in tests in its effort to curb COVID-19 exposure in Tulare County. The Visalia hospital started these tests from three makeshift tents in mid-March. Last week, the hospital expanded its program by closing off traffic a block north of the Visalia campus to accommodate more patients.

Within a week, Saint Agnes and Community Medical Centers will also be offering tests.

“As the largest health care system in our region, Community Medical Centers is doing what’s necessary to maintain the highest level of care for Valley residents,” said Michelle Von Tersch, senior vice president of communications and legislative affairs for Community Medical Centers. “Community is expanding our lab services to include rapid COVID-19 test processing to reduce the time many residents are experiencing when awaiting results.

According to Von Tersch, they are currently awaiting test supplies. 

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