Jeramey Jannene

Health Clinics To Offer Drive-Thru Tests

350 tests per day by 5 community centers including drive-thu tests handled by Wisconsin National Guard.

By - Apr 27th, 2020 05:18 pm
2019 Novel Coronavirus. Image by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

2019 Novel Coronavirus. Image by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Five community health centers across Milwaukee will expand their COVID-19 testing capacity as part of a broad partnership. The effort includes drive-thru testing administered by the Wisconsin National Guard.

“No one is turned away based on their ability to pay,” said Dr. Lyle Ignace, CEO of Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center. “We are eager to meet your healthcare needs now and long after this healthcare crisis has passed.”

The Indian Health Center is joined in the effort by Milwaukee Health Services, Outreach Community Health Centers, Progressive Community Health Centers and the Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers.

“We are all independent from each other, but we have the same mission,” said Milwaukee Health Services president and CEO Dr. Tito Izard, noting all focus on providing healthcare to underserved communities. “We are looking at this as a holistic approach, a community, grassroots approach to conquering COVID-19.”

Izard said individuals should contact the center nearest to them if they have an existing relationship. “There is probably one within five minutes of you in the community,” he said. Individuals that don’t have an existing relationship should call 211.

Over the next month, the five health centers, in partnership with private laboratories, will be able to process 350 to 400 tests per day.

To access the testing, individuals need to schedule an appointment. “To find any one of us just call 211,” said Liz Claudio, vice president of operations at Sixteenth Street. Izard said those needing testing are cautioned to avoid mass transit to get to a clinic. The centers will help coordinate safe transportation.

“Just call, we will take care of you,” said Claudio. The service is available to those without health insurance.

Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes said the expanded testing is especially critical because Milwaukee County has been the site of 44 percent of the state’s COVID-19 cases and 60 percent of the deaths.

The disease is also having a disparate racial and ethnic impact in Milwaukee. Of the 2,708 confirmed cases in Milwaukee County, 44 percent (1,203) have been in people identifying as black, while they make up only 26 percent of the county’s population. The Hispanic or Latinx community has also been disproportionally affected, suffering more than 18 percent of cases (499) while representing 15.4 percent of the county’s population.

“In order to get on the other side of this, we need to make sure everyone is getting tested and staying safe, hence why you need to make an appointment,” said Alderwoman Chantia Lewis. “This is not a joke, we have seen way too many people pass away from this virus.”

Some of the centers had already begun collecting specimens for testing in recent weeks, including Sixteenth Street as an outbreak emerged in the 53215 ZIP code. The partnership represents a unified effort to draw awareness to testing.

But the centers’ leaders are asking individuals not to overlook other healthcare needs.

“We all remain open to serve the community for other needs,” said Jenni Sevenich of Progressive. “We want people to reach out and continue to maintain good health.”

“During this critical time we want the community to still know we are here providing health services,” said Constance Palmer, president and CEO of Outreach.

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Categories: Health

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