Hartford HealthCare (HHC) this week reached a milestone of 37,864 COVID-19 tests completed. Thousands were through its mobile testing program, designed to help reach underserved population across Connecticut, according to Dr. Ajay Kumar, chief clinical officer for the system.
Because testing is critical to managing the spread of the virus and monitoring vulnerable groups, he said the system augmented its nine fixed testing locations with mobile testing designed to reach people who can’t get to the sites and might not otherwise be tested. This includes nursing home residents, the homeless and those without transportation to testing sites.
“We have seen some of the structural inequities in our system when it comes to health disparities and persistent socioeconomic disparities are starting to be exacerbated because of the pandemic,” said Sarah Lewis, HHC’s vice president of health equity.
Knowing that the prevalence of COVID-19 in these underserved populations is high, she said the mobile testing program was launched to bridge that gap.
“We’re keeping our eyes out for how certain members of our population who have not traditionally had access to health insurance or a regular medical care provider, and who may have certain chronic underlying conditions, are now at risk of suffering more greatly because of the ongoing pandemic,” she explained.
HHC started mobile testing at the beginning of April and now operates three units in Hartford, Fairfield County and Windham County—and have been to more than 40 sites. Another 40 sites are scheduled for next month. This is in addition to the nine permanent drive-through testing sites across the state.
“While we can’t solve the existing health disparities that preceded the outbreak of COVID-19, we can do something now to potentially lessen the impact on those who are already most vulnerable,” Lewis added.
Dr. Kumar offered the following statistics:
- 44,200 tests have been performed by the all testing, including thousands from the mobile units. Several thousand results are pending.
- The mobile units perform on average 300 tests a day.
- With our fixed sites, Hartford HealthCare is able to test 2500 people per day.
In May, the mobile testing units have stopped at:
- Southington Care Center.
- Jerome Home.
- Phillips Health Center.
- Open Hearth Homeless Shelter.
- Department of Correction sites.
- Watkinson House.
- Chase Center.
- Journey Homeless Shelter.
- New Covenant Methodist Church.
- Batchelder Elementary School.
- Southbury Training School.
“This is an additional resource for the state, with additional capacity to support the growing needs of the community,” Dr. Kumar said.
Mobile testing stops are intended for specific audiences and the public cannot drop in to be tested.
Any organization who helps underserved populations and is interested in having a HHC mobile unit schedule a stop can contact Sarah Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Others – adults and children of all ages when accompanied by a parent or legal guardian – can go to drive-up testing sites. Find out more here.
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