Atrium mobile test center

Atrium Health started using the Mobile Coronavirus Testing Center in mid-April, and it has the capacity to administer 140 testes every three minutes. 

The Atrium Health Mobile Coronavirus Testing Center has tested more than 2,500 people since it opened in April.

When positive coronavirus cases started popping up in the community, Atrium set up some testing sites. But as the virus started to affect people in lower income areas and people of color, Atrium developed a new model for testing, said Kinneil Coltman, Atrium senior vice president and the chief community and external affairs officer.

The new model for testing focused on the most efficient way to give people easier access to testing who otherwise may not be able to receive it.

“We have removed every single barrier that we could think of so that people could have access to testing,” Coltman said.

Looking at factors that would normally inhibit patients from receiving testing, the new model several barriers.

Patients no longer need an appointment or insurance in order to get a test. They also aren’t required to have a provider referral. Since cost is a major barrier for testing, Atrium is not currently billing insurances for the test. Also, there is no on-site charge, Coltman said.

There is also an interpreter on site to facilitate conversations if language is a barrier. Atrium health does not ask about legal or immigration status, she stated.

Coltman and others in Atrium knew that essential workers needed better access to tests, so the mobile unit’s hours extend past 5 p.m. so workers had time to be tested, if needed.

There are often higher volumes of people seeking tests during lunch time and after 5 p.m., Coltman said. Staying open longer allows more people to get tested.

“That is exactly what we were aiming for,” she said. “We wanted to make sure workers in essential industries had access to testing.”

But the site provides more than just testing. Atrium wanted to take a holistic approach to testing, Coltman said. To do that, the site couldn’t just provide tests. It needed to meet other needs present due to the virus.

“We are trying to wrap our arms around the community. We want to make sure the community feels safe during this stressful time,” she said.

Before being tested, patients are asked a list of social determinate questions.

The questions consist of topics such as:

• Is the patient or someone in the home an essential worker?

• Can the patient isolate if the test is positive?

• Does the patient have access to effective cleaning supplies?

• Does the patient have access to necessities such as food?

If patients answer no to any of the questions, they are directed to a social worker. For example, if a patient is unable to isolate effectively, then he or she will be provided with a hotel room free of charge, Coltman explained.

If patients are also dealing with any other underlying health issues, a nurse practitioner is also present on site to assist.

In order to meet the needs of the community, people in the community need access to the mobile testing site.

“We really want to make sure that all parts of our community that we serve experience our testing as effortless to access,” Coltman said.

The new testing model also uses an in-house geographic systems map that uses social data to show where coronavirus hot spots are. Knowing where hot spots occur helps target testing locations.

The mobile unit opened for testing April 14 and since then have tested well over 2,500 patients. The unit has the capacity to administer 140 tests every 3 minutes. The unit will continue to stay open as long as the community needs it, Coltman said.

“We found that this is a successful nationally leading strategy to give access to testing to underserved communities,” she said. “In my mind, we are in this for the long haul.”

A list of this week's dates and locations for the center can be found here.

A list of next week’s dates and locations for the center can be found below.

Mobile Unit 1

5/26/2020

10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Atrium Health East Charlotte Family Physicians

5801 Executive Center Drive, Suite 100

Charlotte, NC 28212

5/27/2020

10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Nations Ford Community Church Family Life Center

7410 Nations Ford Road

Charlotte, NC 28217

5/28/2020

12 p.m. - 6 p.m.

St. Paul Baptist Church

1401 Allen St.

Charlotte, NC 28205

5/29/2020

12 p.m. - 6 p.m.

Iglesia Cristiana Nueva Vision

6800 The Plaza

Charlotte, NC 28215

Mobile Unit 2

5/27/2020

10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Iglesias Camino

1801 Walkup Ave.

Monroe, NC 28110

5/29/2020

12 p.m. - 6 p.m.

St. Joseph's Catholic Church

108 St. Joseph St.

Kannapolis, NC 28083

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