Appointment can be made online
Story and photos by Karen Carr Keefe
Do you want a quick answer to the question, “Do I have COVID?”
You can find out in as little as 10 minutes if you make an appointment and drive up to Island Prescription Center, 1728 Grand Island Blvd.
The Grand Island pharmacy has been offering rapid COVID-19 testing for about a month. People can get the test while they are seated in their car. Wait times are short – usually about five minutes, max, until it’s your turn for the test.
“Once we swab, it’s about 10 minutes to get the results,” says owner and pharmacist Michael Manuszewski.
Response has been very good, he said: “We’ve been pretty much booked almost every day since we started.” Between 70 and 80 tests are booked daily. Manuszewski said they have added a few more appointments each day to serve as many people as they can.
As far as he knows, no one else on the Island is giving the rapid COVID test. It’s the one in which a long swab, similar to a Q-tip, is inserted into the nasal cavity. Testers then determine from the specimen if antigens are present that indicate positivity for coronavirus. It’s called a rapid test, quite logically, because the results are obtained so quickly.
The PCR test for COVID, not done at Island Prescription Center, has a three-day turnaround for results. That’s a molecular test that can detect trace amounts of the virus.
Manuszewski said the rapid test costs $70 upfront, and insurance companies may not cover it.
“Obviously, COVID is brand-new, the insurance companies aren’t used to it, and pharmacies technically are not laboratories; so we got a waiver from the state in order to do it … but we don’t have a waiver from the insurance companies to bill them,” he said. “And the other part of it is that the insurance companies, a lot of them will pay for it, but only for diagnostic use, and we can’t diagnose anything.
“So if the patient goes to their doctor’s office and gets a written prescription, then we could possibly bill the insurance company.”
He recommends patients submit the bill to their insurance to see if they’ll pay for it.
To make an appointment, go to the website islandprescriptioncenter.com and click on the green bar on top, to the right of where it says, “Schedule your drive-up COVID-19 test.” There’s a calendar so you can pick the date, and available times will pop up. The pharmacy is open Monday through Saturday.
Manuszewski sees the testing as a service to the community: “People need to know. They want to go see relatives, they want to get together and they just want to be a little bit safer.”
He said going off-Island, people may have to wait hours in line. “This is a lot quicker, and we like to do things locally on the Island.”
The Island Prescription Center, which specializes in prescription compounding, may soon be branching out into other COVID-related services.
“I’m pretty sure the governor will give us a waiver to do antibody testing,” Manuszewski said.
And when the vaccine is rolled out for the general population, that could be next.
“We are on the list to receive the vaccine, so as soon as we get it and get guidance as to who, where we start vaccinating, we’ll start that right away,” he said. “We’re hoping that we’re included in the next wave, which will probably be at the end of the month.”
He added, “But that’s optimistically.”
Island Prescription Center owner and pharmacist Michael Manuszewski assists a drive-up customer regarding the rapid COVID-19 test done through the pharmacy’s new testing service.