Jefferson patients with a physician-ordered test can walk or drive up for testing.
Among the many ways in which Jefferson Health is preparing to address the local impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, mobile-testing sites are open at all major locations, including one on the surface parking lot at 10th and Sansom streets in Center City.
The aim of those mobile sites – located in Center City, Navy Yard, Abington, Northeast Philadelphia and New Jersey – is to facilitate fast and effective testing for Jefferson patients with physician-ordered tests.
Patients can either walk or drive up to the sites, which are designed to help control infection and limit symptomatic (non-emergent) patients from entering enclosed care spaces such as crowded emergency rooms.
A set of five rules greets those who approach the Center City testing site: place mask over face, remain six feet apart, do not approach providers, follow the waiting-line path and medical staff will direct you when it’s your turn.
Dr. Maria Aini, Medical Director of Emergency Medicine, said that on its first day of operation (Tuesday), at least 100 Jefferson patients with physician-ordered tests made their way through the walk- or drive-up site on which Jefferson’s CoLab Philadelphia Airstream trailer – thanks to Dr. Bon Ku – serves as a base for providers.
Ku says that it made perfect sense to get the Airstream involved in this effort, as the “mobile platform for community health” has already been used to engage through blood-pressure screenings and, among other initiatives, HIV testing.
“When I heard about an interest in outdoor testing in that parking lot, there are not too many physical structures there, so it could serve as a base camp for computers, nurses, technicians and staff,” Ku explains. “We need shelter from the elements, and it sets a stage out there as more of a presence than just tents in a parking lot. It shows the public we are doing something, and it’s important that people get tested outside.”
Aini explains that importance.
“Our first priority and staging is designed to help the healthy stay out of the emergency department, as it is a high-risk environment,” Dr. Aini says. “We wanted to find an area where people could be safely tested instead of in the emergency department, where people who might not be ill would have to interact with people who are ill.”
Dr. Aini said that the JeffConnect app has helped immensely by providing a face-to-face video interface which helps decipher who needs to come in for testing and who can stay home. The ultimate goal is to not overwhelm the emergency department, says Dr. Aini of the testing-site initiative.
As things stand, the mobile testing centers are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but Dr. Aini says those hours will inevitably be expanded.