More COVID-19 testing availability in Erie and Niagara counties
Coronavirus testing is ramping up in Western New York.
•Niagara County Community College in Sanborn
Earlier this week on LCTV, Niagara County Legislature Chairwoman Becky Wydysh said, “We know that the NCCC testing site being run by the state has been open for about a week now. The county health department is doing drive-thru clinics on Wednesdays for first responders, and generally there have been more test kits coming to the area, for nursing homes and doctor's offices, than we've seen previously.
To access this service:
•Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center
Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center will offer the community diagnostic testing for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, beginning Monday, May 11.
Drive-thru testing will take place by appointment from 8 a.m. to noon daily on Memorial’s downtown Niagara Falls campus. Afternoon appointments will be available at Niagara County satellite sites from 1-5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.
During the week of May 11, the afternoon test site will be behind the Summit Healthplex, 6934 Williams Road, Wheatfield. The following week, beginning May 18, it will take place at NFMMC’s Eastern Niagara County Health Home office, 80 Main St., Lockport.
Testing will be overseen Dr. Rajinder Bajwa, Memorial’s board-certified infectious disease specialist. He will be assisted by experienced nurses, mid-level providers and physicians from Memorial’s Family Medicine Residency Program. The COVID-19 lab tests will be analyzed by Kaleida Health’s medical laboratory.
Pre-registration is required. Those being tested will be required to call 716-278-4496 to schedule an appointment and to provide a prescription from their primary care physician or other medical provider. A prescription may also be obtained from Bajwa and should be requested from the medical center when scheduling a test appointment.
•Community Health Clinic
“We did hear about another testing site that's going to be happening. We’re very happy to announce that Community Health Center of Niagara will be holding testing clinics on May 9 and May 17 with their mobile unit, which will be parked at their facility at 2715 Highland Ave. To schedule an appointment with them, you can call 716-986-9199, ext. 5907,” Wydysh said.
She explained, “We also know there's been quite a bit of talk of needing more testing in the Niagara Falls city area. Niagara Falls is where we are seeing our highest number of positive tests come back. Again, to be expected in a more densely populated area. But we need to have the testing in that city available for the individuals that need it.
Erie and Niagara Counties
•Rite Aid (Niagara Falls/Buffalo)
Congressman Brian Higgins received confirmation Rite Aid is planning to locate two new drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites in Western New York: one in the City of Niagara Falls and one in Buffalo’s coronavirus hotspot within the 14215 ZIP code.
Late Monday, Rite Aid confirmed plans to accommodate drive-thru testing at its locations at 1030 Pine Ave., Niagara Falls; and 2474 Bailey Ave., Buffalo.
Rite Aid told Higgins’ office it is exploring safe ways to accommodate tests for those walking up or arriving by way of public transportation.
Coordination and training is currently underway, but Rite Aid said it hoped to have the Buffalo and Niagara Falls testing sites up and running within the next week or so.
Residents can begin making appointments for the Rite Aid testing on Sunday. They must complete a prescreening and make an appointment. Visit www.riteaid.com.
WellNow Urgent Care is offering two types of COVID-19 testing at its Western New York facilities: molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing and blood antibody serology testing. Individuals who have or recently had COVID-19 symptoms are eligible to receive the tests. Tests are available seven days a week with no appointment needed.
The molecular (PCR) test, like a flu test, requires a nasopharyngeal swab to determine if a patient has COVID-19. Antibody testing uses a blood sample to determine the presence of antibodies in response to a recent or past COVID-19 infection. Additionally, antibody testing can determine an individual’s immunity to the virus and help identify potential plasma donors.
Individuals who have or recently had symptoms of the virus will be screened in their car, provided a mask and brought directly to a private patient room for further evaluation and testing. Both tests are said to be highly accurate and will return results within approximately 48 hours.
Quest Diagnostics locations are providing tests. The company provides results in one or two days on average for both diagnostic and antibody tests. Quest facilitates same- or next-day visits for antibody tests when scheduled in advance at patient service centers.
According to Quest, “We offer two options to access antibody testing. One way is to go the traditional route of ordering testing by having your physician order the test. Any physician in the U.S. can order an antibody test and either collect the specimen, or send the patient to one of Quest’s 2,200 patient service centers for a blood draw. This is covered by insurance.
“Alternately, if a patient does not want to visit a doctor, they can order a COVID-19 antibody test through our consumer-initiated testing service, QuestDirect (www.getquesttest.com). This service is self-pay and costs $119. A patient purchases the test, and a physician associated with the service orders the test. Then, the patient is prompted to make an appointment at one of our patient service centers for the blood draw. If they have questions about their results, they have access to one of the service’s physicians.
“To find the closest locations to you, the best bet is to check our website as some of our locations and hours have changed due to COVID: https://appointment.questdiagnostics.com/patient/findlocation.”
•Erie County Department of Health
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced anyone who believes they have been exposed to COVID-19 or is as risk for the coronavirus is eligible for testing through the Erie County Department of Health.
No doctor’s referral is required. Call 716-858-2929 to make an appointment.
•Kaleida Health Testing Site
Kaleida Health has a testing site at the Leroy R. Coles Jr. Library on East Delevan Avenue in Buffalo. People with COVID-19 symptoms can make an appointment by visiting www.kaleidahealth.org/coronavirus. A prescription or doctor’s referral is preferred. The site has hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
•New York State Department of Health
New York opened a drive-thru testing site on Perry Street in the Cobblestone District in Buffalo. Sampling here is for high-risk individuals – those who are in close contact to someone who has already tested positive; health care workers; nursing home employees; first responders on the front line.
An appointment is required. Call 1-888-364-3065 to see about qualification. If approved, an appointment will be scheduled.
The Erie County Department of Health has updated its COVID-19 testing to include anyone who believes they may have been exposed to or at risk for COVID-19.
This update will expand upon previous testing criteria, which included any individual with symptoms of COVID-19, including any of the following: fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, cough, shortness of breath, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, diarrhea, new loss of taste or smell.
Individuals who are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms (asymptomatic) at the time of sample collection would not be subject to a commissioner’s isolation order. However, any asymptomatic person who receives a positive COVID-19 test result is subject to the commissioner’s isolation order.
Any individual who has COVID-19 symptoms at the time their sample is collected will be under a commissioner’s isolation order until their test results are available. Anyone who develops COVID-19 symptoms before they receive their results should take immediate steps to remain at home, isolate themselves from others in their household, and consult with their physician.
Individuals with COVID-19 symptoms are strongly encouraged to contact their primary care physician to help manage their care.
To start the COVID-19 diagnostic testing process through the Erie County Department of Health, call 716-858-2929. Foreign language interpretation is available.
The expansion of Erie County’s criteria is possible because of the increase in testing capacity by the Erie County Public Health Lab, the New York State Department of Health, and partners in the health care community including Kaleida Health.
Graphic courtesy of Niagara County/LCTV
EVEN MORE LOCATIONS
On Friday, Higgins announced more than $1.3 million in funding awarded to federally qualified health care clinics to expand COVID-19 testing capacity in Western New York. The supplemental funding was included in the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, approved by the House of Representatives on April 23, which provided $25 billion to expand testing nationwide.
Higgins said, “Western New York health clinics play a critical role in supporting healthy communities and they are continuing to do so through this pandemic. Growing access to testing is important as we look to reopen our economy and reduce community spread.”
•Community Health Center of Buffalo: The Community Health Center of Buffalo Inc. (CHCB) is offering COVID-19 testing every Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting May 12-13 through its medical mobile unit stationed in the Buffalo site parking lot at 34 Benwood Ave., Buffalo.
Testing is also available on the mobile unit on Saturday, May 9, and Saturday, May 16, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Community Health Center of Niagara at 2715 Highland Ave., Niagara Falls.
In addition, CHCB is partnering with others to bring testing to Greater Faith Bible Tabernacle at 391 Edison Road in Buffalo’s hard-hit 14215 neighborhood. Drive up testing will be available on Monday, May 11, and Friday, May 15, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Residents must have a prescription from their primary care provider to be tested. If you do not have a primary care provider or are uninsured, call for further assistance. To schedule a COVID-19 diagnostic test with CHCB at any of the above locations, call 716-986-9199, ext. 5907.
Community Health Center of Buffalo CEO Dr. LaVonne Ansari said, “We are playing an important role in containing the spread of the COVID-19 Virus, especially in communities of color, where families are being hit the hardest. These funds will be used to expand capacity for testing and to monitor and suppress COVID-19. Increased access to laboratory services, contact tracing, purchase of PPE supplies, telehealth equipment and transportation assistance for patients or health center personnel will now be possible with this funding. We remain committed to building healthy communities, one patient at a time.”
•Neighborhood Health Center: Neighborhood Health Center is offering drive up testing through its Mattina site at 300 Niagara St., Buffalo, and its Blasdell location at 4233 Lake Ave. Drive-up testing is by appointment only. A telehealth evaluation by a Neighborhood Health Center provider is required prior to scheduling an appointment. Contact the Blasdell office at: 716-332-3070 or the Mattina office at 716-242-8600.
"As primary care providers in our communities we are a vital part of preventing unnecessary hospitalizations and remain committed to our public health role in focusing on safeguarding health and safety and limiting the spread of this virus in our communities," said Joanne Haefner, CEO of Neighborhood Health Center. "This added funding allows us to safely and efficiently provide drive up COVID-19 testing at our offices where we are dedicated to serving those in most need.”
•Jericho Road Community Health Center: Jericho Road has been evaluating and testing respiratory patients in isolation units at its Broadway and Barton locations during normal operating hours since the beginning of March. The health center is accepting new patients and can help uninsured patients access coverage. Call 716-881-6191 to get connected.
Jericho Road is also conducting barrier-free, walk-up COVID-19 diagnostic and antibody testing for the general community at various partner sites throughout Western New York. These events do not require a prescription, an appointment, a primary care provider, or insurance. All community testing events are first-come, first-served and are mainly conducted outdoors. Test type administered is based on provider discretion. Check jrchc.org/medical/covid19 for the most up-to-date information.
Dr. Myron Glick, founder and CEO of Jericho Road Community Health Center, added, "Access to COVID-19 testing is part of community health centers' larger commitment to making health care accessible to all people, especially the most vulnerable. At Jericho Road, we decided that removing all barriers to testing is incredibly important in the fight for health care equity during this pandemic. We know that people of color, people living in poverty, and frontline workers are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and we need to make sure that testing is readily available to them in their own neighborhoods. To date, we have held two community testing events at our 1021 Broadway location and have more planned for various sites around Buffalo. We are incredibly grateful to Congressman Higgins for securing this funding for Jericho Road and other local community health centers."
Image courtesy of the Office of Andrew Cuomo.
•Erie County Department of Health: www.erie.gov/covid19
•Erie County online map of confirmed cases: www.erie.gov/covidmap
•Niagara County Department of Health: www.niagaracounty.com/health
•New York State Department of Health hotline: 888-364-3065