UPDATE: PMC completes first day of drive-thru COVID-19 testing
The first day of testing at the Pike County drive-thru COVID-19 clinic ended early, with the site testing 70 people before 2 p.m.
According to Chief Operating Officer Kansas Justice, the first day of Pikeville Medical Center's partnership with the Pike County Health Department was a success.
"It has been a constant flow of cars all day. This morning, when we opened up, there was about 14 cars in line," Justice said.
The site will offer 250 tests per week, which is more in one week than the medical center had previously been able to offer to the community in the months leading up to the partnership.
Those tests are available Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., or until the site reaches its daily 70-test limit.
With the success of the recent Kroger drive-thru testing in Pike County, the county's medical professionals wanted to offer more permanent access to testing.
Public Health Director Tammy Riley worked with the county's COVID-19 Task Force to form a new plan. Now, with the help of Pikeville Medical Center, testing is readily available.
"I was very thankful for the resource, but it came and it left," said Riley. "And without it, almost, our hands are tied."
According to Riley, the access to testing will provide a more accurate sense of where the county stands in this pandemic, which in turn will help healthcare workers better protect the community.
"I'm very excited and very appreciative that Pikeville Medical Center was willing to step up and partner so that we can have better outcomes for this community," said Riley.
Dr. Al Akhrass said the best way to move forward as the statewide restrictions begin to lift is to know the exact details of what the county is dealing with.
"It's time to go to the offense and do something for the community to be able to put that virus in a cage," he said. "We need to regain our freedom."
And the new testing site is helping the healthcare workers pinpoint those answers while bringing back the jobs that were on hold during the recent furloughs.
"Thirty-seven of those employees that we furloughed will be coming back to work next week," said PMC President and CEO Donovan Blackburn.
With all of the positive changes, Riley says many people are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel. But she urges against any premature celebration.
"Our numbers do look really good. I'm gonna brag on us," Riley said. "But, this is only halftime and the other team is mad and they're coming back out, full-force at us. So, this is not the time to let our guards down."
Testing will be open to the public Tuesday at 8 a.m and will continue to serve the community Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. near the former Jerry's parking area.
The hospital will only test up to 70 people each day.