Lee Health, city opens coronavirus test site at Chester Street Resource Center
By CJ HADDAD
Cape Coral residents and those in the area who may be showing symptoms or want to get tested for coronavirus can once again do so locally.
On Tuesday, employees of Lee Health and the Cape Coral Fire Department set up shop at the Chester Street Resource Center, where a by-appointment-only collection site has now opened to help serve the needs of the public.
This site was opened by the city of Cape Coral in partnership with Lee Health after a rise in positive tests locally and throughout the state. This test site will be open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
A prior testing site at Cape Coral Sports Complex was closed in May.
Members of the Cape Coral Fire Department have been trained on how to properly administer the nasal swab test. Specimens will be collected at the site and sent to Lee Health for processing.
“This is an exciting opportunity for the city to partner with Lee Health and open up this testing center,” said Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello at the site Tuesday morning. “I’m very proud of our first responders, particularly our fire department, as they are going to be the ones administering the tests. Although that’s not part of their job description, they’ve stepped up to the plate and they’re willing to help in that manner.”
The site is easily accessible by turning south on Candia Street from Cape Coral Parkway and then west onto Lafayette Street. Arrivals will check at a tent for their name and given instructions to follow. A mask must be worn at all times by those getting tested. Windows must be up at all times. A mask is only to be removed and a window rolled down when the test is administered. There are two bays at the Chester Street Resource Center where tests will be administered, which will also allow testing to continue through inclement weather.
Kris Fay, Chief Administrative Officer for Lee Physician Group Home Health and Physician Services, said more than 130 patients were scheduled to receive tests Tuesday morning. Test results typically take 72 hours to process according to Fay, sometimes faster. The test result will be given to the original provider of the patient, who will pass along the results and go forward with treatment if necessary.
Hours and days of operation may be revised in the near future if the need from residents continues to increase.
“Clearly the demand is rising,” Fay said. “If you look at the numbers and the number of positive tests we’re seeing — the census of COVID-positive patients is increasing. Overall, clearly, there’s much more community spread and the need exists to get these people tested. The people who are tested here generally exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, which is why we want to get them in quickly and get them tested.”
CCFD Chief Ryan Lamb said they would test six cars/persons every 15 minutes to start as they acclimated to a new role.
“While this isn’t the typical role of the fire department, when there’s a need in our community, we step up and we fill that need,” he said. “Our goal is to help limit the spread of the virus in our community and ultimately save lives. We believe that more testing in our community will save lives.”
Lamb said the CCFD worked with its medical director to ensure the crews are competent and trained in administering the test.
Full CCFD crews are still staffed at stations throughout the city. Lamb said those working at the testing site are on overtime pay and that they would be seeking FEMA reimbursement for costs to staff the site.
“(The firefighters) are doing great,” Fay said. “They are very well qualified and doing an excellent job.”
Coviello said the downtown location of this site would helpfully be an easier way for residents to get tested if they are feeling unwell. Coviello also said he is working on another site in the city, potentially at Walmart locations via drive-thru pharmacies.
A physician’s order can be obtained through a primary care physician, an urgent care center or by visiting Lee Telehealth at www.leetelehealth.org.
The Chester Street Resource Center is at 4816 Chester St., in the South Cape.
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