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Kaleida Health labs expand testing again

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Thu, Apr 23rd 2020 12:00 pm
Kaleida Health is again ramping up COVID-19 testing. (Photo courtesy of Joe Cascio, Kaleida Health)
Kaleida Health is again ramping up COVID-19 testing. (Photo courtesy of Joe Cascio, Kaleida Health)

Partnership with local government & Health Disparities Task Force leads to clinic on east side of Buffalo for COVID-19 testing

Kaleida Health on Thursday announced it has once again expanded its laboratory testing capability for COVID-19, adding a third clinic, this time on the east side of Buffalo, which has seen significant growth in the number of positive coronavirus cases.

“This is a great example of people working together and collaborating to help the community when it is in need,” said Jody Lomeo, president and CEO of Kaleida Health. “We know that there is a high prevalence of COVID-19 in areas like the east side of Buffalo. So, it is incumbent upon us – the health system, our government and the community – to come together and help find a solution. I thank the Health Disparities Task Force, County Executive Poloncarz, Mayor Brown and our partners in government for their partnership on this important initiative.”

The additional testing site, Leroy Coles Library on East Delevan Avenue, will open Friday. The site is located in ZIP code 14215, which currently has the highest number of confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in Erie County. It is being opened in conjunction with the African American Health Disparities Task Force, County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Erie County Department of Health, Erie County Legislature Chairwoman April Baskin, Mayor Byron Brown, City of Buffalo and the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library.

All individuals must have an appointment to receive a test, as the clinic cannot accommodate unscheduled testing. Individuals can schedule a test by calling 716-859-3222. They should have a prescription from their primary care provider to get tested if possible.

Test results can be returned in about 48-72 hours through the ordering health care provider.

If individuals do not have a health care provider in which to obtain a prescription for testing, they can still follow this process, but their results will be communicated via the Erie County Department of Health. At that time, information about primary care physicians in the area who are currently accepting new patients will be shared with these individuals.

The Coles Library site will initially be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Kaleida Health will consider adding more hours and/or more nurses as testing demand escalates.

Those that are in need of a COVID-19 test (symptomatic with fever greater than 100 degree, cough, shortness of breath), can call Kaleida Health’s hotline number to review their symptoms and be scheduled for a test over the phone.

Poloncarz said, “I am pleased to join Kaleida Health in announcing a new testing site on the far east side of Buffalo. Recent COVID-19 test results indicate a higher cluster of cases than should exist based on the area's population. Thus, it was important to open a new testing site where the coronavirus outbreak is. That's what we are doing today. Opening this site would not have been possible without great partners and I would like to thank Kaleida Health, Mayor Byron Brown, the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, Legislature Chairwoman April Baskin, and pastors George Nicholas and Kinzer Pointer of the African American Health Disparities Task Force, for their efforts in making this additional testing site a reality.”

The Rev. George Nicholas, co-convener of the African American Health Disparities Task Force, said, “The nature of this assault on public health requires innovation and collaboration in order to care for our most vulnerable citizens. I am encouraged that Erie County and Kaleida Health are partnering with the Buffalo Center for Health Equity to create access to COVID-19 testing right here in our community at the Leroy Coles Library. I applaud the leadership of Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz as well as Kaleida CEO Jody Lomeo. By working together, we have created an additional venue for neighborhoods residents to have much-needed testing that will directly impact the spread of the virus, as well as alerting people to seek the health care they need in order to stay alive.”

The Rev. Kinzer Pointer, co-convener of the African American Health Disparities Task Force, added, “With the whole nation battling this global pandemic, it is so critically important to provide local community members with answers. Thank you to Jody Lomeo and Kaleida Health for partnering to provide answers on Buffalo’s east side. There is still work to do and we can tackle that as partners, as family.”

Brown said, “We recognize that people need to have complete information about their health so they can seek treatment and take the necessary precautions to protect themselves, their loved ones and the entire community. In order to begin to return to ‘normal,’ we need access to more testing in our community. In partnership with Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, the Erie County Health Department, Erie County Legislature, the Buffalo Common Council, Kaleida, the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library and the African American Health Disparities Task Force, I’m pleased that we are providing testing in vulnerable neighborhoods. Expanding testing, particularly for residents with the most health challenges, is essential to slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus and saving lives. Please stay safe and healthy. We are all in this together.”

Baskin said, “I want to thank Kaleida Health and the City of Buffalo and local physicians and faith leaders for partnering with Erie County on this new testing location. Residents of the east side have been heavily impacted by COVID-19, and it is reassuring that our community will have a testing site that is accessible.”

Mary Jean Jakubowski, director of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, said, “It is an honor to be a part of this collaborative effort. Libraries are community. Making the Leroy R. Coles, Jr. Branch Library available to be a site for this very important and much-needed testing is simply the library doing what it can in the fight against COVID-19. We are grateful for and thank all those on the front lines.”

The Kaleida Health Laboratories team has analyzed over 4,700 COVID-19 tests year to date.

In mid-March, dozens of tests a day were analyzed, but now the labs have the capacity to process nearly 500 tests a day.

This is the fifth expansion for Kaleida Health and its labs:

No. 1 originally focused on symptomatic/critical patients and front line hospital workers.

No. 2 added hospital system employees from the Catholic Health System, the VA, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and ECMC, as well as first responders from across Western New York.

No. 3 added essential workers, as defined by New York state (transportation, hotels, food processing, child care services, auto repair, grocery stores, pharmacies, etc.).

No. 4, most recently, expanded to communitywide testing, adding anyone in the general public who has been deemed symptomatic by their primary care doctor and received a prescription to obtain testing.

For testing questions, the Kaleida Health coronavirus hotline remains open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily at 716-859-3222, or visit www.kaleidahealth.org.

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