Walk-up COVID-19 testing site to open in Providence Tuesday

The state's first walk-up COVID-19 testing site is opening in the city of Providence on Tuesday.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – The state’s first walk-up COVID-19 testing site is opening in the city of Providence on Tuesday.

The testing site, located in the parking lot of the Robert L. Bailey Elementary School in the Elmwood section of the city, is the first in the state to offer walk-up and drive-up testing.

Providence Walk-Up Testing

“As we continue to see the spread of COVID-19 throughout our state, it is critical that everyone have access to the medical tests and care they need,” Mayor Jorge Elorza said in a press release. “That’s why we are working with our community partners to provide the care that is easy to get to and offered in multiple languages.”

The site is run by the Providence Community Health Center (PCHC) and has the ability to test 40 people per day by appointment only.

Currently, Rhode Island is administering more than 2,000 tests a day, but Governor Gina Raimondo has said that those less privileged and minorities are being hit the hardest.

On Monday, the Department of Health shared statistics that of those who’ve tested positive, 45% are Latino, and roughly 12% are African American.

The walk-up site is designed to help those of underprivileged communities.

“It’s really important for our community and for our patients and for the people that live here to have an available walk-up for people who can’t get in their cars and go to the different test sites around the state,” said Kim O’Connell, Chief Transformation Officer at PCHC.

O’Connell said, while their official opening day is Tuesday, they scheduled some patients to be tested Monday to make sure things ran smoothly.

“We intentionally made sure that we had a slow start today to make sure we’re ready and the flow works, so it’s been working really well.”

The center tested drive-up patients in the morning and walk-ups in the afternoon. All of them, O’Connell said, were grateful.

“They were definitely appreciative. We got a lot of thumbs up, a lot of waving, definitely a lot of thank you‘s for our provider who’s doing the swabbing.”

The health center has around 15 staff members working at the test site. Doctors do the swabbing, and dental assistants and dental hygienists make up the other staff. Some nurses have also volunteered to help.

Staff members running the registration tent are bilingual.

Appointments must be made through a doctor, and are free and available to those who are symptomatic. Patients of PCHC must call the center first to get an appointment. People showing symptoms who don’t have a physician are urged to call 401-444-0404.

Additional drive-up testing in Providence is located at Clínica Esperanza in Olneyville by appointment only on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The number for this clinic is 401-408-0238.

© WLNE-TV 2020

Categories: Coronavirus, Providence, Rhode Island