In addition to testing sites for Jefferson patients, a pair of no-cost sites will help reach underserved patients and communities in Philadelphia and beyond.
Editor’s note: This article was updated from an earlier version originally posted in March 2020.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jefferson Health quickly mobilized an effort to establish mobile-testing sites at major locations.
The most attention-grabbing site featured the CoLab Philadelphia Airstream trailer on the surface parking lot at 10th and Sansom Streets in Center City. The aim of those early locations—in Center City, the Navy Yard, Abington, Northeast Philadelphia and New Jersey—was to facilitate fast and effective testing for Jefferson patients with physician-ordered tests.
While thousands upon thousands of walk- or drive-up tests have been administered in subsequent months, the effort continues amid the recent spike in cases, with the addition of two no-cost sites, in Northwest and Southwest Philadelphia respectively.
Dr. Scott James—vice president of patient care services at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals—notes that the original testing site with the Airstream was moved from the parking lot to the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Emergency Department (ED) ramp this summer.
However, the recent spike means that they may have to move again to help expand the ED’s treatment space. In late October, he and others canvassed campus for alternate sites. Dr. James expects one to be selected this week, and could be in operational within several weeks. (The existing site will remain in operation until then).
Looking back at the time since March, Dr. James says many lessons were learned, and practices put into action to streamline the testing process for patients and physicians alike.
Mandating appointments helped pinpoint which location was best for patients, while establishing opportunities for efficiency.
“We set a goal for how many patients we wanted to see in 15 minutes and, from experience, we know that number is 10 to 12 patients. This helped us adjust the hours that we’re open, reducing cost, overhead and footprint, but it brought about much more efficiency,” says Dr. James.
“It’s better for the patients because it limits processing time,” he continues. “They’re in and out in three to five minutes. We feel really good about how far we’ve come along.”
To get tested at established sites, patients need to obtain an order from their Jefferson Health physician before calling 855-GO2-JEFF (855-462-5333) to schedule an appointment at the most convenient location. For the community-based sites, patients should call 833-JEFF-4-ME (833-533-3463).
The two COVID-19 Community Testing Program sites—located at the St. Raymond of Penafort Church school parking lot and Richard Allen Preparatory Charter School—aim to reduce barriers faced by community members seeking testing, especially Black people, who have been disproportionately affected by the virus.
“By providing these publicly accessible COVID-19 testing sites, we can expand capacity by thousands of tests,” added Dr. J. Matthew Fields, a Jefferson emergency medicine physician and principal investigator on the project.”
With the city’s support and our invaluable community partners, we can target locations with higher rates of COVID-19 or significant under-testing. — Dr. Fields
Dr. Morgan Hutchinson, a Jefferson emergency medicine physician and site co-leader, concurs.
“There’s clear need for more widespread testing to control COVID-19, and to reduce health disparities in underserved communities,” Dr. Hutchinson says. “As the health system that has treated the most COVID-positive patients in Greater Philadelphia, we are leveraging our expertise and resources to meet this need.”
At the no-cost sites—made possible through city funding—testing will be billed to patients’ insurance. They are asked to bring identification and insurance information. If they do not have insurance, please bring ID, as they can get tested regardless. Save time by calling ahead, or walk/drive up for testing, though walk-ups may experience a wait depending on volume.
‘Do Not Discount Symptoms’
Dr. Patricia C. Henwood, who is also on the coronavirus front lines in Center City and leads the Emergency Medicine COVID-19 Task Force, says the expanded offerings are integral because of the importance of providing more community access to testing.
“Testing is a pillar of the response, and of controlling the spread,” Dr. Henwood says. “Without testing, you can’t do that.”
She notes that they’ve seen a lot of engagement through the JeffConnect telemedicine platform, which is staffed 24/7 with an emergency medicine physician who evaluates patients and orders testing if indicated.
With the recent addition of an official student-volunteer opportunity to support the no-cost testing sites in partnership with the City of Philadelphia, those studying at Sidney Kimmel Medical College were also tapped into the effort. Volunteers do not work with patients, but in areas of messaging and coordination.
“Messaging about access to testing and recognizing health-care disparities highlighted by COVID is important to address,” she says. “Volunteers are helping connect with the community about symptoms of concern, and how to seek testing.”
With the ebb-and-flow of demand clearly on the uptick, Dr. Henwood shares the ever-present recommendations to potentially slow the viral spread: social distancing, handwashing, avoiding large groups, and wearing a mask, among them.
“It is important not to discount early potential COVID symptoms. If you have them, self-isolate, and seek evaluation and testing,” Dr. Henwood says. “At this juncture, it is also important to get your seasonal influenza vaccination. Dampening the concurrent impact of the flu season as we head into our first winter with COVID may reduce unnecessary strain on healthcare systems. Despite the pandemic fatigue many are experiencing, ongoing vigilance and precautions are still just as relevant to move through this challenging time.”
Testing Site Locations
The locations and hours of operation for the sites are listed below, separated between physician-order needed and no-cost sites.
Jefferson Health COVID19 mobile-testing sites (physician order needed, call 855-GO2JEFF to schedule):
Center City (132 S. 10th St., Philadelphia, PA 19107): Monday through Sunday, 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Navy Yard (Navy Yard Parking Garage, 3 Crescent Drive, Philadelphia, PA, 19112): Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital (2201 Chapel Avenue West, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002): Monday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Jefferson Methodist Hospital (pre-admission testing, or PAT)2301 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA, 19148): Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (asymptomatic pre-surgical/pre-procedure patients only)
TJUH PAT (925 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19107): Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (asymptomatic pre-surgical/pre-procedure patients only)
Washington Township (367 Hurfville-Cross Keys Road, Sewell, NJ, 08080): Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Jefferson Health COVID19 mobile-testing sites (patients must work with physician’s office to send order to the testing site, after which they will receive a call to schedule their appointment):
Abington (1200 Old York Road, Abington, PA, 19001): Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Abington-Lansdale Hospital PAT 100 Medical Campus Drive, Lansdale, PA, 19446): Tuesday, 3 to 5 p.m.; Sunday 8 to 10 a.m. (asymptomatic pre-surgical/pre-procedure patients only)
Jefferson Urgent Care – Bensalem (2966 Street Road, Bensalem, PA, 19020): Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Richard Allen Preparatory Charter School (2601 S. 58th St., Philadelphia, PA 19143): Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Fridays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (tentatively scheduled to start Friday, Nov. 6)
Ampersand (City Life) at the Jefferson Frankford campus (5050 Frankford Ave., Medical Office Building, Philadelphia, PA 19124): Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.