North Mississippi Primary Health Care will offer free, drive-thru testing for COVID-19 at two of its locations Monday, May 4.
Ripley Health Care Associates and Tishomingo Health Care Associates will begin testing at 10 a.m. and conclude at 2 p.m. on Monday. No appointment is necessary, and testing is open to anyone who would like to be tested. Christina Nunnally, Chief Quality Officer, said that NMPHC encourages people who work in the public, grocery stores and factories to take advantage of the free tests.
The health care group offered the free tests in Walnut, Ashland, Booneville and Corinth earlier this week and late last week. On Friday, April 24, Walnut Medical Center tested 26 individuals for the virus and Booneville Community Health Center tested 60. Monday, April 27 Benton Medical Center in Ashland tested 51 and Corinth Health Care Associates tested 80.
“We will have about 50 tests at each location,” said Nunnally. The tests will be administered on a first-come, first-serve basis. Nunnally expects to have plenty of tests but encourages people to come early to ensure they get tested.
NMPHC had approximately 100 testing kits that are going to expire next Thursday, April 30, so they decided to offer the free testing days rather than disposing of expired tests. The health care group was able to acquired 100 additional kits from their laboratory as well.
“We’ve been testing people with symptoms and those who’ve been in close contact with positive individuals. Typically what happens is that you have to go through a screening process to be tested. We were afraid there were going to be tons of people sick. Thankfully physical distancing and other measures have suppressed the sicknesses to some degree. Still, we were afraid it was going to be worse, and we would need the tests. We just have not had the number of sick people that we thought we would have. So, we’re going to open testing up to anybody. We are not throwing away, COVID test.”
Nunnally feels the open screening will identify asymptomatic carriers who may be spreading the virus unknowingly.
“This is going to be absolutely free. We’re covering it with our grant money. It’s just something that we’re doing for our community, trying to identify additional people who may be may be spreading the virus in the community and don’t know it,” said Nunnally.
On testing day, patients will be asked basic demographic questions. They will need to sign a waiver allowing NMPHC to perform the tests.
“All they need to provide us with is just their name, contact information, address, basic stuff. That’s so we can process the information and the computer will print them out a lab label. They don’t need to bring any money. We’re not billing insurance. It’s totally free.”
Nunnally expects test results to be back in 48 to 72 hours. NMPHC will call patients with the test results and provide educational information about preventing the spread of the virus and ways to avoid contracting it.
NMPHC asks patients to stay in their car at all times on testing days. No one will be allowed inside the facilities. There will be a designated area at each location for testing. Patients should wear a mask or some sort of face covering. All nurses will be wearing personal protective equipment.
“We don’t feel like we’re out of the woods yet. People still need to continue physical distancing, use common sense while they’re in public and limit their exposure to other people as much as they possibly can. If we continue to do that, we can have a real impact on this virus beyond what everybody has already done. I think people by and large have done an outstanding job, but I think we’ve got to keep this up to make sure that we don’t have a resurgence in our communities,” said Nunnally.