Two drive-through testing sites opened Monday in the mid-Hudson Valley. They were made possible through a local healthcare provider in partnership with Dutchess and Ulster Counties.
Nuvance Health opened collection sites in Ulster County, at Tech City in Kingston; and in Dutchess County, at Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill. Nuvance Health spokesman Timmian Massie says on the first day, the Ulster County site administered 79 tests and the Dutchess site, which was open for less than four hours, 36 tests. He expects the numbers to increase in the coming weeks.
“We’re just getting word out now. There was a lot of work that had to be done to set up these two sites,” Massie says. “And we’re very grateful to everybody in the county government in Ulster and Dutchess working very closely with us to put these sites up in less than a week.”
He says Nuvance recognized the need, especially after seeing a number of area residents heading to the emergency room at Northern Dutchess Hospital for testing, against advice to contact a physician first.
“These are not actual testing sites,” Massie says. “This is where we collect the specimen, which comes from a nasal swab. It is then sent to an outside lab for the actual test results, and it could take up to six days for those results to come in.”
Nuvance Health, whose hospitals and outpatient locations include Vassar Brothers Medical Center, also has collection sites up and running in Danbury and Norwalk, Connecticut.
“Other parts of the state have had more state support to get the testing sites up,” Ryan says, “We really had to put this together here on the ground.”
Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, during a Facebook town hall update, said you must be pre-screened and have a physician’s order before scheduling an appointment at the Nuvance locations.
“We won’t yet have the capacity to test everyone who ideally who wants to be tested, yet,” says Ryan, “That’s our goal but, right now, we have to prioritize.”
Ryan says the Kingston location can handle 200 tests daily.
“We are planning to have a second site up down in Ellenville by March 31, latest, hopefully sooner than that,” Ryan says. “The bottom line to me is that, we’ve seen this in other parts of the world and in the country, mobile testing and boosting our testing capacity will absolutely save lives.
“We’re very fortunate that we have a good supply chain for now with the personal protective equipment, or PPE as it’s commonly called, to make sure that our healthcare providers are properly protected,” says Massie.
He says to ensure adequate supply continues, Nuvance is scouring every source, at home and abroad, to equip health care providers. Locally, he says a number of distilleries are using their alcohol to produce hand sanitizer while a few locations are working on 3D-printed face shields. Again, Ryan:
“We don’t have enough of everything,” says Ryan. “We don’t have enough beds; we don’t have enough ICU beds; and we don’t have enough respirators.”
On Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order requiring all hospitals to increase capacity by a minimum of 50 percent. Ryan says local hospitals are working on it.
“I am very concerned about our current hospital capacity. We know we don’t have what we need. We are working very hard with our hospital partners to try to add 50 percent increase capacity at all of our hospitals. They are working nonstop. I’m in daily regular contact with our hospital leaders and executives. We are working that. We’re getting those resources,” Ryan says. “And, ultimately, I hope that as New York state builds downstate for surge hospital capacities, that I’ve encouraged the governor and his team to look here in the Hudson Valley as a next site to build one of those. We’ve scouted several locations and we stand ready to do that. We know that that is going to be a need. So we’ll continue to plan for and advocate for that.”
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro:
“And so in Dutchess County, we’re working with our hospital networks,” says Molinaro. “We’re prepared to open an alternative care facility.”
He says Dutchess Community College would be the site of such a facility as part of the county’s pandemic response plan. He says county officials will decide in two weeks whether such a site needs to be set up for individuals who don’t need intensive hospital care.
Both collection sites are open Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., subject to change.