Escalera Health tests, screens for COVID-19 with drive-through site

Escalera Health tests, screens for COVID-19 with drive-through site
. (Source: WXIX)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - These days the staff at Escalera Health, an outpatient health clinic in midtown, is busy. They’re busy — not inside the clinic, but outside — tending to a growing line of patients concerned they might have COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

“Three weeks ago, we were doing five, 10 a day,” Dr. Robin Glicksman, the chief clinical officer of Escalera Health, said Friday. “In the past week, we did 20 a day and today we did 50.”

Glicksman, a doctor of behavioral health, is talking about COVID-19 tests and screenings. The health center opened its drive-through COVID-19 testing site at its midtown location last month and sees more patients coming to the clinic every week.

Since March 16, the day the site opened, 150 patients have been tested for COVID-19, Glickman said, with nine of them testing positive for the disease. With testing available through Accu Reference Medical Lab and some equipment provided by the Pima County Health Department, the testing site is one place where adults of all ages can get tested in Tucson.

“We are able to do about 100 per day and there’s no shortage, right now, on testing kits,” Glicksman said. “We haven’t turned anyone away and aren’t planning to.”

Though anyone can visit the drive-through site, teams are prioritizing at-risk patients, like those with pre-existing conditions, healthcare workers, first responders, and patients who may have been exposed as well as those showing symptoms, which include fever, dry cough, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.

“One of our health providers will come out and meet patients in their car, wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment, and then do a quick focus history to make sure we are testing people who really need to be tested,” Dr. Christian Moher, a physician and chief executive officer of Escalera Health, said.

Escalera’s drive-through site can test 100 patients a day, using one kit per patient. The whole process takes about 10 minutes, from screening questions to the nasal swab. Patients can expect to hear back from Escalera in a couple of days over the phone.

“We want to do what we can, to make sure if they test positive, that we can give them some guidance and direction on what to do next,” Moher said.

Escalera Health’s drive-through testing site, located at 2224 N. Craycroft Road Suite 100, is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., closed for lunch from 12 to 1 p.m. Patients do not need an appointment to get tested, Glicksman said. The site will bill to the patient’s insurance if they have it. No one will be turned away for the inability to pay, Glicksman said.

Anyone with questions can call Escalera Health at (520)-209-1919.

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