Drive-thru testing for the novel coronavirus began Tuesday at the Caldwell Medical Center business office, 110 S. Cave St.
Testing will continue through Thursday of this week and be available from Monday through May 14 next week.
Personnel from Caldwell Medical Center will perform the testing from 7 to 9 a.m. on Monday and Wednesday and from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday of each week. The testing is being done in conjunction with the Kentucky Department of Health and regional health departments.
Mandy Smiley, infection preventionist and a registered nurse at Caldwell Medical Center, said the medical center’s testing capacity had increased, enabling it to expand the number of tests it could provide.
“We felt that there may be a need for Caldwell County and a couple of the surrounding counties,” she said. “I think Lyon County and Crittenden County are also included in this.
“We’re also getting support from our local health departments. We’ve been in contact with (Pennyrile District Health Department Director Jim) Tolley, and he has provided someone to assist on some of the days that we’re doing the testing.”
She added that the medical center will do two weeks of testing, then see how the situation stands after that before deciding about taking a further course of testing.
“We will get an idea on how many folks are interested in getting tested,” she said.
To be tested, people must make an appointment by calling 270-365-0332, and they do not have to be showing symptoms of COVID-19 to be tested. That will also help workers get some of the paperwork taken care of before testing, helping to make the testing process as quick as possible.
Those making appointments after working hours may leave contact information so a health department representative can call them back the next business day to make an appointment.
Smiley said there is a particular route that people should go to get to the testing site.
“We would like for people to come in off of Main Street and turn right there on South Cave,” she said. “As they pull up, they’re going to see some signage.”
The first stop in the process is to verify the person with the appointed time. People being tested should have a driver’s license and insurance card available to help verify the person’s identity.
The person being tested will be asked some medical questions before being moved to the next stop, where they will be swabbed by nurses.
“We want them to stay in their vehicle; they do not have to get out,” Smiley said. “We want them to leave their window rolled up until it’s time for us to ask questions or do the actual testing. … As soon as we do their tests, they’ll be on their way.”
Smiley said the entire process should take about 15 minutes.
“We will contact the patient with the results,” she added. “When we receive the results — whether they are positive or negative — we will be contacting them, and they will also be hearing from the health department, especially if there is a positive result.”
Smiley said that those who are tested should do an in-home quarantine until they hear their results, which should take up to 48 to 72 hours, which Smiley called “a very quick turnaround.”
Smiley said that Caldwell Medical Center was “excited” to be able to provide the health opportunity to people in the area.
“We are thankful that we are able to get the test swabs to do it, and we’re thankful that we have the health departments to support us,” she said.
Princeton Mayor Kota Young is also supporting the local testing process.
“Expanded testing has never been more important, especially as we look ahead to the continued reopening of our local economy,” he said in a prepared statement. “However, as we transition from being able to test only our frontline workers and those visibly unwell, to any and all who want a test — regardless of symptoms — we should expect our number of confirmed cases to increase.
“This is not a reason to panic. Remember, the better we understand this virus, the better we can contain it. Many of these cases will also likely be from those without symptoms, or with only mild symptoms, and each case we confirm in one of these carriers is an infection chain broken.”
Young said that testing is the way to learn more about the virus and defeat it.
“This virus’ great strength is its ability to hide in the healthy,” he said. “This is how we combat that. This is how we stop playing defense and go on the offensive.”