MUSC sets up drive-thru specimen collection site for novel coronavirus testing

People must have a testing order and appointment scheduled through MUSC’s online platform before arriving
Updated: Mar. 12, 2020 at 8:29 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Medical University of South Carolina has set up a drive-thru tent for patients who have gone through their virtual testing online.

This drive-thru site is in the parking lot of the Citadel Mall campus, outside the MUSC Health West Ashley Medical Pavilion, according to MUSC spokesperson Heather Woolwine. Testing will not be conducted inside the pavillion, she said.

This is not a self-select drive-thru or walk-up service for anyone in the community who has a health concern, MUSC officials say. They will turn away anyone who comes to the site without a testing order and scheduled appointment through the MUSC Health Virtual Urgent Care platform.

To access the MUSC Health Virtual Urgent Care online platform, click here.

“This is a very innovative use of technology to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and I am incredibly proud of our MUSC Health care team for working so hard and quickly to make this option available,” MUSC Health CEO Dr. Patrick Cawley said. “We are considering additional locations throughout the Tri-county area and our statewide system, should they be needed. Our state and local partners are in the loop on what we’re doing and seem appreciative of our leadership with this model. We want to do everything we can to think out of the box in terms of how we can help the community during this time.”

Providers within the site, wearing the appropriate CDC-recommended personal protective equipment, will quickly collect specimens from only those patients who have screened into the system as “high risk” for respiratory illness, including possible exposure to COVID-19.

A major concern for health care providers remains exposing vulnerable or non-infected patients to those patients who do have the virus and arrive to seek care in clinics, waiting rooms, hospitals and other such areas.

“To date, most patients will experience mild to moderate illness while treating viral symptoms and recover within a week from the onset of symptoms,” a release from MUSC states. “These patients can be triaged through the online platform, receive lab orders and scheduled appointments to report to the site and complete specimen collection without having to leave their vehicles and possibly exposing others to the virus.”

Although online screening is free, it is important to note that specimen collection available at the drive-thru site and subsequent laboratory processing will be billed to patients’ insurance providers or considered self-pay. As always, patients can access the MUSC Health financial assistance team if they encounter difficulties or barriers to payment. Patients will receive information about collection and testing procedures when they schedule their appointment, prior to their arrival at the collection site.

“We must find ways to protect the vulnerable populations within the community, as well as the health care workforce so they can continue to care for all patients who need us, COVID-19 or otherwise,” Cawley said. “I really appreciate the Citadel Mall ownership and staff, particularly Richard and Ginger Davis, for being excellent community health partners and working with us as we address this evolving public health situation.”

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