UMC begins drive-up screening for coronavirus

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LUBBOCK, Texas — University Medical Center began its drive-up screening for coronavirus on Friday, after conducting a soft-opening on Thursday afternoon. The screening site comes after UMC announced the opening of its triage center, and the first cases of coronavirus in Lubbock.

Dr. Craig Barker is the Corporate Medical Director of UMC Physicians. He said the drive-up testing follows CDC guidelines, and is working closely with the health department. Everyone who shows up is first pre-screened. They are required to answer questions about their travel history and symptoms.

“If they meet the criteria for the CDC testing, then we’re bringing them forward, we’re doing a rapid flu screen, a strep screen,” Barker said.

The results for strep and flu come back in less than 20 minutes, Barker said.

“If those [results] are negative, or if it makes sense to test for the COVID, then we’re following the CDC guidelines and testing for COVID-19,” Barker said.

The drive-thru site does not offer on-site diagnosis of the coronavirus. Instead, the tests are sent to the Clinical Pathology Labs based out of Austin.

“We fly those out in the afternoon, so that [plane] leaves somewhere late afternoon,” Barker said.

The results are back in a matter of 24 hours. If a test comes back positive, those results are presented to the Health Department. Patients are notified of their results whether they are positive or negative.

“The treatment for COVID is about the same for flu,” Barker said. “You quarantine yourself from others. Take your Tylenol and all your fluid, your cough medicine, and you wait it out. Unless you truly are so sick you need to be in hospital.”

On the day of its soft opening, UMC was able to test 80 people in five hours. As of Friday morning at around 11 a.m., 65 people were tested. However, many of those in the pre-screening line don’t meet the criteria to be tested.

“There are patients who are coming in just for fear, or they had some other obvious illness, and it just didn’t make sense to use testing supplies for that,” Barker said.

UMC’s drive-thru screening clinic will be available for the next few days, Barker said. The site will be located at the D-1 parking lot near the Texas Tech Softball field from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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