AHN to Open 4 Drive-Up Collection Sites for COVID-19 Testing Throughout Western PA
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Community-based collection sites are meant to decompress hospital emergency departments and bring testing options closer to where people live and work
PITTSBURGH, PA (March 18, 2020) – In response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the United States and the increasing number of cases being diagnosed in western Pennsylvania, Highmark Health and Allegheny Health Network (AHN) officials today announced that drive-up collection sites for COVID-19 testing are opening this week at four Western Pennsylvania locations.
The first of the locations is operational starting today in the parking garage adjacent to AHN’s Wexford Health + Wellness Pavilion. The three other sites – in Monroeville, Bethel Park and Erie – will be operational within the week. The collection sites will be open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily.
“At a challenging time like this, it is more important than ever that health care institutions come together and mobilize every resource possible to help their communities,” said David Holmberg, Highmark Health CEO. “It is our hope that by establishing multiple collection sites for COVID-19 testing across the region, we will enable more people to access the care they need close to home and minimize the burden of having to travel to a centralized location in the city.”
AHN’s drive-up collection sites will be located at:
AHN Wexford Health + Wellness Pavilion, 12311 Perry Highway, Wexford, PA 15090
AHN Bethel Park Health + Wellness Pavilion, 1010 Higbee Drive, Bethel Park, PA 15102
4220 William Penn Highway, Monroeville, PA 15146
AHN West Side Health + Wellness Pavilion, 4247 West Ridge Road, Erie, PA 16506
Only patients who have been previously evaluated by an AHN-affiliated health care provider for COVID-19 symptoms and who have a valid prescription order from their clinicians may be tested at the drive-up collection sites at this time. On-demand or walk-up testing is not available at these locations.
To obtain a test order, the network is encouraging patients – especially those with COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath – to utilize AHN’s various online or phone hotline options, in order to minimize exposure to others.
Patients can call the AHN 24/7 Nurse phone line (412-Nurse4U) to discuss symptoms with a nurse, or schedule a video visit or an e-visit through MyChart to discuss their concerns with a clinician. After the COVID-19 test is ordered, patients will be contacted directly by AHN to set up a collection appointment.
The community-based collection sites are meant to bring care options closer to where people live and work, and to decompress hospital emergency departments, according to Thomas Walsh, MD, infectious disease specialist and medical director of AHN’s antimicrobial stewardship program.
“At AHN, we continue to take steps to protect our patients, their families, and our caregivers from the risk of exposure to infectious disease,” Dr. Walsh said. “Drive-up testing is one of several steps that we have taken in recent days to keep our patients safe and mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19.”
The collection sites will be able to accommodate up to 20 patients an hour, he said.
At the drive-up locations, on-site signage will direct patients to the secure collection area, where a check-in agent will verbally verify the patient’s identity. If there is more than one person in the vehicle, each person will need a valid prescription order to be tested.
Those who have been directed to the drive-through locations should be aware of the following:
- Visitors will be given a specific appointment window, in order to minimize wait times.
- Visitors will drive through a secured, marked area and will remain in their vehicles throughout the entire collection process.
- No outdoor restrooms will available at the collection locations.
- The sample is collected via a nasal swab; the process typically takes less than 30 seconds.
- The sample will be tested for influenza as well as the novel coronavirus.
- Individuals will be contacted directly with their flu results within 24 hours. If the sample tests negative for influenza, the sample will also be tested for the coronavirus, a process that typically takes 2-3 days, depending on regional test volume. As volumes increase, wait times for results may be longer.
- While waiting for their test results, individuals should stay at home. Those who receive positive COVID-19 test results may be issued additional care orders or self-isolation orders.
The drive-up collection sites will minimize unnecessary visits into clinical offices, waiting rooms, and hospital emergency departments, mitigating the potential spread of COVID-19, Dr. Walsh said.
Today’s announcement is the latest element of AHN’s multi-pronged response to the COVID-19 threat. The network is also enforcing broad restrictions related to patient visitation at its hospitals, in order to protect patients and caregivers.
In early February, AHN implemented a comprehensive pandemic response plan to effectively screen and care for patients presenting symptoms of an infectious respiratory disease, and meeting other criteria established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The enhanced screening processes are being carried out at all access points across the health network, including its hospital emergency departments, surgery centers, urgent care clinics, rehabilitation facilities, physician practices, and home health services.