ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — “This is not a time to get comfortable.”
Those words from Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, as she and other leaders launch a new pilot COVID-19 testing program aimed to reach those most in need.
The program will be held at Jordan Health center on Lake Avenue, and will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for four Saturdays, in total.
Leaders at the launch Saturday morning said the program is all about accessibility for residents in the inner city, who don’t always have reliable transportation to get the services they need.
“Initially, a lot of testing open to the community depended on people having transportation,” said Dr. Laurie Donohue, Chief Medical Officer and Family Physician at Jordan Health. “The testing site located at Monroe Community College, for most folks we serve in the inner city created a significant barrier.”
That’s where the new testing site comes into play.
“You don’t have to be a patient of Jordan Health, we want to be sure everyone can come get tested, they can walk up, they can drive up,” said Donohue.
Leaders say everyone is welcome – to not just get tested, but ask questions, and become educated. “A lot of us have been out in the community doing this for a while now, making sure especially Black and brown people are educated,” said Dr. Linda Clark, Senior Health Advisor, Common Ground Health.
Upon arrival, a patient is screened and answers some questions. They’re then brought inside for a physical, followed by a COVID-19 nasal swab. “We’ve set up a follow-up system where patients will be getting results. If it is positive, it will go to Monroe County Department of Health, but we also will be following up,” said Donohue.
Dr. Cephas Archie, Chief Equity Officer for the City of Rochester is also a part of the collaboration. He says opportunities like this are crucial, especially with flu season on the horizon. “These are the resources that actually make the impact, so we are not expecting our residents to go find the support, we bring the support to them,” he said.
Physicians at the launch said they’re going to see how the next three Saturdays go, and will eventually make a decision to extend the program or not. Donohue said the weather may be a determining factor of that as we head into fall.
The pilot testing site is sponsored by a United Way Crisis Fund grant obtained by Dr. Mahala Schlagman of the University of Rochester Medical Center. As part of the partnership, URMC has agreed to offset the cost of tests for uninsured patients.
Other organizations partnering with the city and Jordan Health include Common Ground Health, The County of Monroe, Black Physicians Network of Greater Rochester, Rochester Black Nurses Association, Ibero American Action League, Rochester Regional Health and University of Rochester.