Nuvance Health will be transitioning its COVID-19 drive-through specimen collection sites in Connecticut and New York to onsite locations throughout the system. Since mid-March, there were over 47,600 total specimens collected at four drive-through sites. Nuvance Health Medical Practices president Dr. Chris Lehrach says nearly 20,000 of those were collected at Danbury Hospital.
Lehrach says the sites were not intended to be permanent. They were set up outside to unburden the emergency department, which was not prepared to do the type of testing that would require negative pressure testing rooms to keep staff and patients safe. They were also placed outside because of the type of testing.
The technology has changed. Only a nasal swab is required now. Lehrach says a nasal swab is less invasive and causes less patient discomfort when compared to a nasopharyngeal swab. That one can produce a gag reflect and produce an aerosolization of the virus. Patients can self-administer the nasal swab but a healthcare professional will assist those who cannot.
Staff doing the testing were taken out of various departments, which are now getting back to business as usual and need those employees back.
Lehrach says Nuvance Health is paying attention to what's happening across the country, and is mindful of the trends. He notes that the number of tests completed in Connecticut is not going down because health care workers are required to be tested, people going in for routine medical procedures are tested, and public awareness has others interested in knowing if they are asymptomatic.
Nuvance Health will decommission the drive-through collection site at Danbury and Norwalk Hospitals on July 4, though the Norwalk date is subject to change.
COVID-19 testing will be available at Nuvance Health Medical Practices’ primary care locations in Connecticut and New York for new or existing patients experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, or patients previously confirmed positive who require clearance to return to work. Patients who want a COVID-19 test are asked to first schedule a Virtual Visit with a primary care clinician.