Community Health of South Florida begins drive-thru COVID-19 testing in SWMD

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Community Health of South Florida have begun drive-thru testing for the coronavirus for their regular patients at their Southwest Miami-Dade campus.

Officials set up signs, cones and tents at the Doris Ison Health Center, at 10300 SW 216 St., as they geared up to begin testing for the coronavirus, Wednesday morning.

The testing will be held from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to noon, officials said. Patients are asked to call 305-252-4820 before coming to the center if they have recently traveled to any of the affected countries, have been in contact with someone who has the coronavirus or if they are experiencing a fever, cough or shortness of breath.

Testing will be done only for regular clients who have called ahead to make sure they meet certain criteria. About 4 in 10 were tested with a nasal swab.

“We prioritize it this way because we just have so many kits, and we realized that we cannot test everyone,” chief medical officer Dr. Tony Amofah said. “The only way we can all help to nip this virus in the bud in terms of spreading infections is, in addition to staying at home and all the hygiene stuff, is to test as many patients as possible, and today, we get to begin to do that.”

Test results come back in three to four days, and people who arrived in their vehicles were first assessed for symptoms and other risk factors.

Dr. Jana Cua, who works as a psychiatrist at Doris Ison Health Center, was one of the first people to go through drive-thru coronavirus testing. Rocky, her dog, has kept her company in her car and at home.

“I think I have a fever right now still and chills,” she said. “I’m, like, sweating a lot, but at least I’m home. I’m back home.”

Cua said she pulled up to one of the tents and took off her mask to expose her nose for a swab.

“It was actually pretty painful, and it took longer than the actual flu test that I took the other day, which came out negative,” she said.

Cua is one of hundreds who suspect they may have COVID-19 and waited in line to get tested. She thinks she came in contact with people in her apartment building who traveled to high-risk countries.

She said she believes she has been through the worst of her symptoms, but she is anxiously awaiting her test results.

“It’s nothing to panic [about], unless you’re elderly and you have co-morbid symptoms, and that’s a different issue, but I think for the rest of us, we’re going to be just fine,” Cua said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Hard Rock Stadium will be a testing site. 7News cameras captured tents set up in the venue’s parking lot, but there is no activity at that location yet.

“We also want to make sure that those folks who are 65-plus and are exhibiting symptoms that they have an easy way to go in and get tested,” he said.

DeSantis also said the drive-thru testing in Broward County is still a work in progress.

“So I think what it will be is, there will be clear criteria and then, you will, hopefully, be given a window of when to come, so that you’re not waiting in your car all day. Then, we can look at going beyond that.”

What exactly that criteria will be is still somewhat unclear, although Memorial Healthcare System officials point to CDC and health department guidelines, such as international travel as well symptoms like fever and shortness of breath.

C.B. Smith Park in Pembroke Pines is also being prepared to be a drive-thru testing site. 7Skyforce hovered over the park, where members of the National Guard are working with Memorial officials to prepare the site, which is expected to be open by the end of the week.

“It’s going to have five lanes,” DeSantis said. “One will be designated specifically for first responders. We’ll have 100 National Guardsmen there supporting the effort.”

Broward Health are also preparing drive-thru sites, but the details for those locations are being worked out.

Cleveland Clinic announced Wednesday afternoon they will have a drive-thru testing facility set up at its Weston facility, but patients will need an appointment.

“We will firmly announce this very soon, but I can tell you, the priority — one group — is going to be the healthcare workers,” said DeSantis.

The location in West Palm Beach has already had to shut down services to those who don’t already have an appointment. The overwhelmed staff is running out of protective gear and swabs to conduct the tests.

Broward hospital groups are making it clear that not everyone will be eligible to be tested, and the U.S. National Guard is now training to make sure it all runs smoothly.

Miami-Dade County is also trying to set up drive-thru COVID-19 testing.

“We’re working very closely with Jackson Memorial Hospital, the Department of Health and the Affordable Care Act to ensure that we get drive-thru testing in locations around the county,” said Miami-Dade County Deputy Mayor Jennifer Moon.

Officials are asking those with severe symptoms to go to the center’s emergency department.

By the week of March 23, officials expect to add a second testing location for its patients at the Marathon Health Center, at 2805 Overseas Highway, in Monroe County.

Officials also announced that the healthcare system will begin screening all patients and visitors before they enter any of the health centers to prevent further spread of the virus.

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