Drive-Thru Testing Helps Patients Feel More Comfortable Amid COVID

Phlebotomist Alexis Houser at the drive-thru testing location.
Phlebotomist Alexis Houser at the drive-thru testing location.

Since March 2020, a total of 15,000 nasal and throat swab collections have been completed at our drive-thru testing site, located at our former ambulance bay. This site is used for COVID tests, rapid flu, strep, and RSV tests. It was opened early in the pandemic to make it easier for collecting swabs and to help patients feel safer.

“A lot of patients are still nervous and skeptical about coming in for any lab work, but providing this process has eased some of that tension,” said Michael Rigney, manager of Laboratory Support Services. “Being able to provide this for our patients and the community has been extremely humbling. I knew that it would be a fantastic opportunity to provide more options for our patients and to help them feel more safe and comfortable.”

Patients who use the drive-thru testing site have either received an order from their physician due to symptoms they have, or they have a scheduled procedure at the hospital that requires a COVID test. A patient will call the pre-registration line to schedule a collection time. After arriving at the drive-thru site, the patient calls the number posted to notify the outpatient phlebotomist, who then captures the patient’s information, completes check-in, and labels the patient’s specimen container.

The phlebotomist then dons the appropriate PPE (gown, PAPR hood or N-95 with face shield, and gloves) before going outside to greet the patient. Prior to collecting the sample, the phlebotomist verifies the patient’s information. Then, following collection, the phlebotomist thanks the patient and goes back inside to doff the PPE. Between patient interactions, they don/doff the gown and gloves and sanitize the face shield. Following collection, the specimen is sent to the lab to be distributed appropriately for testing. For rapid tests, results are back in one day. Non-rapid tests usually take between two and three days.

There are usually two phlebotomists handling the collection process, collecting between 50-120 swabs on most days. Toward the end of 2020, they were completing more than 120 swabs every day. “My team has done a fantastic job during this entire process. The pandemic has been extremely tough on all of them, but they continue to come in and work as hard as they can to ensure the safety and satisfaction of our patients are met,” said Michael.

For a list of COVID-19 testing sites in Bartholomew County, go here: https://covid19communitytaskforce.org/covid-19-testing-sites-in-bartholomew-county/

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