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Free drive-through coronavirus tests start near West Palm Beach

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Posted at 1:34 PM, Mar 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 11:47:48-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County's first free drive-through testing service for coronavirus opened on Monday morning.

By Tuesday, organizers said they were no longer accepting new appointments, as they were booked up through April after receiving more than 6,000 phone calls.

FoundCare, Inc., a non-profit Federally Qualified Health Center, has set up an outpatient drive-through testing station in the parking lot of its location at 2330 S. Congress Ave. near West Palm Beach.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus

“We had appointments for 16, but we actually tested 63,” said Dr. Rik Paulescak with FoundCare.

The site, which opened at 10 a.m. Monday, is offering free COVID-19 tests.

However, the site is only seeing select individuals at this point including first responders, health care workers, and people 65 years of age and older.

“We will be limited so we’re asking the public please don’t just show up. We’re not doing general testing,” Paulescak said.

Exclusive video from WPTV Chopper 5 showed a long line of cars snaking through the parking lot of FoundCare shortly after the testing site opened.

WATCH CHOPPER 5 VIDEO:

CHOPPER 5 VIDEO: First drive-through coronavirus testing site opens in West Palm Beach

The service will be offered on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and hours may be adjusted based on needs and supplies. Testing will be conducted by trained FoundCare staff members.

“We already have over 3,000 calls,” said Paulescak. “We’re already into next week for scheduling as well as the week after and the week after.”

Prior to being tested, patients need to call 561-967-0365.

During the call, each patient will be asked basic screening questions about their symptoms and other criteria for the test. The phone line will be manned for screening and appointments weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Patients will be asked if they meet any of the following testing criteria:

  • Someone who has been in close contact with confirmed COVID-19 case
  • Fever or cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • International travel in the last 14 days with or without symptoms above
  • Cruise travel within the last 14 days with or without symptoms above
  • Airline travel in the last 14 days with or without symptoms above
  • Attendance at a group gathering where an outbreak for COVID is under investigation, with or without symptoms above

"Patients typically present with fever, cough, and possibly shortness of breath," said Dr. Oneka Marriott, Chief Medical Officer for FoundCare. "Most cases have presented with mild symptoms. Patients with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, immunocompromised states, or those greater than 65 years of age with fever or symptoms of cough or shortness of breath may experience more severe and life-threatening outcomes of COVID-19 infection."

At the testing site, patients must have their patient code and an appointment in order to be tested. No one will be tested without an appointment.

While the patient remains in their car, they'll need to provide proper identification and contact information, including a valid phone number. FoundCare staff will safely store the patient’s information, collect the specimen using a test kit, and send the specimen to a qualified lab.

According to Marriott, samples will be sent to either a commercial lab like Quest or LabCorp, or the Florida Department of Health's Bureau of Public Health Laboratories.

The patient will be instructed to self-quarantine at home while waiting for the test results, which can take 48 to 72 hours. FoundCare staff will contact the patient with the results as soon as they are available.

While FoundCare is performing the test for free, the laboratories may generate a separate bill for patients for that service.

In Martin County, a drive-through coronavirus test site opened on Saturday at Cleveland Clinic Martin North Hospital, located at 200 SE Hospital Ave.
For more information about the drive-through testing, click here.