Samaritan begins drive-through COVID-19 tests

WWNY Samaritan begins drive-through COVID-19 tests

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown launched a drive-through COVID-19 testing site Thursday.

Hospital officials announced Thursday that the state Department of Health approved Samaritan to open an appointment only, drive-up testing site for COVID-19.

People started to pull up in cars to get tested for virus. Twelve people came throughout the day.

“There were over 100 patients that didn’t meet testing criteria today so we were able to prevent those 100 from just showing up at a doctors office to be tested,” said Andrew Short, SMC chief operating officer.

In order to be tested there, people must follow these steps:

- Call the Samaritan’s resource line at 315-755-3100 to be screened. The line is open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. Callers will be asked a series of questions.

- If the registered nurse on the resource line determines the caller needs to be tested for COVID-19, they will have an appointment scheduled with an appointment coordinator. The coordinator will pre-register the person and collect demographic information.

- Once an appointment is scheduled, the caller will visit the testing site at the back entrance of 22567 Summit Drive, Building II. Signs lead people to the appropriate location.

- Signs instruct people getting tested to keep their windows closed as they enter the intake tent. They’re instructed to hold their Identification up to the window so intake staff can validate their name and date of birth to check in for the appointment and automatically order the lab test.

- Once checked in by intake staff, people are instructed to pull forward to the testing area, where staff confirm the screening questions, then instruct the patient to roll down their window.

- Staff swap the patient’s nasal cavity and provide them with home care instructions to perform while they wait for results. The visit is then over and the patient is asked to drive away.

Hospital officials say the process is designed to minimize risks to health care workers and save on personal protection equipment needed to test patients.

“Everyone is trying to keep themselves educated, keep themselves protected and most importantly caring for the patients. Keeping the patients protected,” said Leslie DiStefano, director of SMC’s communication and public relations.

The site will run 7 days a week, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with 5-minute appointment slots per patient. Results will take 5 to 6 days to come back.

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