In response to the state's declaration of Sussex County as a COVID-19 hot spot, the first of several drive-through testing events was conducted in Georgetown April 29 by Beebe Healthcare with assistance from a newly formed coalition.
Approximately 600 tests were conducted, including a combination of rapid antibody tests, which were done by Division of Public Health, identifying if someone has been exposed to COVID-19 virus and has developed antibodies, and a test through nasal or oral swabs, which determines if someone is actively infected. Swab test results will be given to participants in four to six days after processing in a lab. All participants were given instructions and education for what to do after testing.
Each of the healthcare systems in Sussex County is participating in the community testing effort.
Participants, who stayed in their vehicles, first went through a detailed screening process to determine what type of testing was required, either rapid or nasal-swab. The testing process also includes immediate case investigation for positive cases, connection to a resource coordinator for services such as food and housing for those who are positive, and care kits for individuals who do not have the means to purchase supplies themselves.
A doctor’s order or referral is not needed for drive-through testings.
“This is something the community needs and wants,” said RN Shannon Hager, Beebe Medical Group clinical coordinator. “We are here to serve our patients.” Hager is Beebe's nurse manager for COVID-19 testing.
Of the 80 or so healthcare workers taking part in the event, about 55 were from Beebe.
Thanks to state funding, Beebe was able to offer typical COVID-19 tests as well as rapid antibody tests, said Stephen Keiser, Beebe Medical Group vice president of operations.
The rapid test allows for immediate results.
“We've done a tremendous amount of testing and this reflects expanded care for the community,” Keiser said.
Beebe's screening and testing takes place in the parking lots of JD Shuckers and the Sussex County VA community outpatient clinic off Route 404. A line of vehicles formed prior to the start of the 10 a.m. event and remained constant for the next six hours. The process takes about 30 minutes.
Beebe will have other drive-through testings in Georgetown from 12:30 to 4 p.m., Friday, May 1, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, May 2. Bilingual staff is on site.
According to state health officials, testing is geared to reach high-risk populations with symptoms consistent with COVID-19; those living or working with someone diagnosed with COVID-19; family members or housemates of those working in the poultry industry; and those with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, hypertension or compromised immune systems.
At the request of Gov. John Carney, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is assisting with community testing and contact-tracing efforts, help combat the crisis in Sussex County and make recommendations to prevent more widespread transmission.
Beebe collaborated with the Division of Public Health, La Red Health Center, Westside Family Healthcare, Nemours Pediatrics, Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Georgetown and the Georgetown Police Department.
Bayhealth provides testing in Milford
Bayhealth will have walk-up or drive-up COVID-19 testing at the State Services Center in Milford at 253 N.E. Front St. from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 2, Monday, May 4, Thursday, May 7, Saturday, May 9, and Monday, May 11.
Coronavirus testing is available for all ages. Nemours staff will be available to provide pediatric patient testing.
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford will announce testing dates in the near future.