Free COVID-19 testing continues at CMC drive-through

Registered nurse Emily Robinson (foreground) uses hand sanitizer between COVID-19 testings as infection preventionist Mandy Smiley (left) and pharmacy technician Macey Felker prepare to take more tests Thursday at the Caldwell Medical Center. The CMC will continue its free drive-thru testing at 4 p.m. weekdays.

Caldwell Medical Center continues its free drive-thru COVID-19 testing at 4 p.m. weekdays and announced its holiday hours for those wanting to be tested.

COVID-19 testing will not be available on Nov. 26 and 27, Dec. 24 and 25 and Jan. 1. Testing will be available starting at 2 p.m. on Wednesday as well as on Dec. 23 and Dec. 31.

CMC infection preventionist Mandy Smiley said those wanting to have a COVID-19 test should make an appointment by calling 270-365-0428.

“We require an appointment; you must be registered,” she said. “We’ve seen a lot of folks that show up who say, ‘I thought we could just come out there and get tested,’ but there’s a lot of pieces that go into getting these folks ready to be tested and the process that we have to do as an organization.

“If we didn’t have them registered, it would take a whole lot longer and be a much more convoluted process when they show up here at the hospital to be tested.”

The cost of the test is covered by insurance, and Smiley said most people get the results within a couple of hours.

“During the registration process, we get most of that (insurance) information,” Smiley said. “Occasionally, we will need a driver’s license for identification or an insurance card.

“The test is free to the patient, but we do bill their insurance. There is no out-of-pocket cost to them. If they don’t have insurance, that’s OK; we’ll still test them and there’s no charge.”

It takes 30 minutes for any of the CMC’s six machines to run the rapid test. When the day’s testing is completed, CMC personnel contact those who were tested to give them the results.

“It takes 30 minutes to run, but it may be an hour or so before we call with the results,” Smiley said. “It’s still a quick process. We tell (patients) that they will have a test result — positive or negative — sometime this evening.

“We start the drive-through at 4, so usually, by 7:00 in the evening, unless we’re really, really busy, they should have a result.”

Caldwell Medical Center conducted 313 tests last week, the highest single-week total, averaging more than 62 tests per day.

“That’s just the drive-through,” Smiley said. “Of course, we have clinics and other places — like the emergency room — that do testing as well on a patient.

“We are seeing an uptick, and that’s because of the number of positives that we’ve had in our community.”

While almost all of the Caldwell County citizens who have tested positive for COVID-19 recover at home, the Caldwell Medical Center has seen a recent increase in COVID patients.

“At the beginning of this week, I believe we had three COVID-positive patients in the building,” Smiley said. “At this point — to my knowledge — we have no COVID-positive patients who are hospitalized.”

The CMC is a 25-bed critical-access hospital, and it has a team that meets regularly to assess the current COVID-19 situation within the community and surrounding counties.

“We work really closely with all of our providers to see what’s going on in the community,” Smiley said. “We have a plan in place called a surge plan. We put that surge plan together at the beginning when COVID hit during the spring, and we’ve revised that as needed with what’s going on currently.

“It’s a very fluid situation. What we think we might anticipate for next week could change at any moment, so we’re meeting almost daily and discussing those things. There are several folks involved with that to make sure we are meeting the needs of the community and making sure that we are not overrun.”

Caldwell Medical Center has updated its visitor guidelines, which are based on the incidence rate map issued by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

“We doing this on a weekly basis, using the Thursday incidence map,” Smiley said. “Depending on the area of the hospital…we have defined what our visitation will be, based on that incidence map.

“If we are a red county, for example, then we’re going to have limited visitation. This is to keep everyone safe, and we feel, as a health care provider, that we need to make sure that we’re doing these steps to ensure safety for everyone.”