Syracuse Community Health Center transitions to drive-thru model for COVID-19 testing

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The demand for COVID-19 testing keeps growing and the Syracuse Community Health Center, which has been designated as the regional coronavirus testing site, is expanding its resources to accommodate the demand.

Within 48 hours, SCHC has changed its testing format to protect Central New Yorkers.

SCHC sits right off of South Salina Street at the southern edge of downtown Syracuse.

On a normal day, you’ll see folks walking in and out of the front of the building for medical and emotional care. Things are a little different now, there are lines of cars at the back of the building as part of the drive-thru testing site for COVID-19.

“As you know we are serving as a triage center for Onondaga County for COVID-19 testing, so we designated an area within our building but yesterday, but we transitioned to testing individuals in their cars,” said Mark Hall, the president and CEO of the Syracuse Community Health Center.

On Tuesday, Hall’s staff moved the testing from an isolated area inside the center to a drive-thru model to accommodate the overwhelming need.

“This was for two reasons: One was the sheer volume of individuals of people coming through, these tests take five minutes to complete. Just the volume of individuals coming through the center and the designated parking spots, it just made more sense to provide those tests while they are sitting in their car,” Hall said.

People from around the region are coming to the center to get tested. On Tuesday, nearly 300 people were tested.

The regional COVID-19 testing center is not a walk-up facility. Before visiting the testing center, people who have respiratory issues, or have questions related to COVID-19 must either phone their physician or call the COVID-19 regional triage hotline at 315-464-3979.

If their case warrants a COVID-19 test, they will be referred to the testing center.

If members of the Syracuse Community Health Center patient community are experiencing upper respiratory issues, or have questions regarding the COVID-19 virus, we encourage them to call their physician or contact the COVID-19 hotline at 315-464-3979.

To visit the testing center, you must follow this protocol.

The test takes about five minutes to complete including paperwork and up to four days to process.

The health center sees thousands of patients each year and the staff wants everyone to know that all patients are a priority, especially their regulars.

“Those patients that have appointments should understand its safe to come down to the center, we have air scrubbers. For the individuals that come in the facility, there’s protocol for everyone who enters our building,” Hall said.

And as things change by the minute, the staff is adjusting to keep the community safe.

Testing time is currently from 8 a.m to 5 p.m., but that could change as the center looks to possibly expand to 24 hours, if necessary.

They have also added volunteer medical professionals to accommodate the need.


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