Starting Wednesday, March 18, Blount Memorial Hospital will begin offering drive-through screening and potential testing for COVID-19 (coronavirus) at East Tennessee Medical Group, located at 266 Joule Street in Alcoa. This drive-through testing and screening center will be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
All those who present to the screening site will not automatically be tested for COVID-19, hospital officials say. To receive a test, individuals must meet specific guidelines, which including having a temperature of 100.4° or greater upon arrival, or having had a temperature of 100.4° in recent days, with an acute respiratory illness that includes either a cough or shortness of breath.
Physicians and providers will evaluate each individual who presents for testing to validate the need for testing, whether it be for flu or coronavirus. This evaluation will be done with individuals remaining in their car and providers coming to them in one of two drive-through lanes.
“We’re extremely glad to be one of the first facilities in our area to offer drive-through screening and testing for coronavirus,” said Blount Memorial chief medical officer Dr. Harold Naramore. “It’s important to know, however, that this is not a coronavirus ‘check-up’ and that we will not test simply because someone is worried.
“This drive-through set up is for people in our community who are experiencing specific symptoms, and we ask our community to help us be good stewards of resources and only come if your physician’s office directs you to or if you have symptoms that mirror our screening guidelines.”
Those who need to be tested will complete some basic paperwork and should be prepared to present their driver’s license and insurance card, as tests administered will be submitted on behalf of individuals to insurance companies. Coverage varies, and it is recommended checking with your specific provider for coverage details.
Naramore emphasizes, too, that if you’re unsure about your need for potential testing, call your physician’s office for specific instructions. “They and their staffs are ready to help you make the most appropriate decision for you,” he says, adding that unless you are coming directly to this drive-through location, it’s still best to call your physician’s office or the hospital prior to just showing up with signs of a respiratory illness. “This allows us to be ready to screen and test you in a specific way that limits your exposure, and that also helps us to protect our staff.”
This is another step that Blount Memorial and its medical staff are taking to proactively try to help combat the potential spread of the disease in our community, according to Naramore, who continues to emphasize, “Be prepared, but don’t panic.”
Naramore also urges the community to keep their scheduled medical appointments, as by forgoing regular medical care can set individuals up for severe medical complications. “Make sure your fear of exposure does not cause you to develop potentially severe complications related to existing health issues,” he says.