OLD SAYBROOK, CT — The coronavirus is ramping up, and so is the testing. In an effort to get as many people as possible tested in a safe, socially distanced and timely fashion, the Community Health Center Inc. — in collaboration with the Connecticut River Area Health District, the Old Saybrook Department of Emergency Management and the town of Old Saybrook — has opened a free drive-thru first-come, first-served testing site at 145 College St. It is open to all Connecticut residents, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Adhering to strict testing guidelines, the process is a lengthy one and is taking, on average, anywhere from two to three hours from the start of the line until people are actually given the test, so those looking to get tested are urged to plan ahead.
“We are doing the very best we can,” said Leslie Gianelli, vice president of communications for the Community Health Center Inc. “We evaluate the line daily; and if we close early, it is to ensure that everyone in line will get tested that day. We don’t want people waiting hours only to find out that they have to come back; and we have to close up and get everything inside for the night by 4:30 p.m. We are trying to be mindful and respectful of everyone’s time.”
She added, “There has definitely been a steady stream of people coming in for testing, which is good. The word is getting out and people are taking the precaution of getting tested, which is what the governor is asking residents to do.”
On Monday, Nov. 9, the site tested 209 people, according to Gianelli. On Tuesday, it tested another 254, and on Wednesday it tested 381. (Additional testing information is available on the Community Health Center site at www.chc1.com.)
“We plan to be open indefinitely, for as long as needed,” said Gianelli, who noted that testing sites will be closed on Thanksgiving Day but will be open the Wednesday before and the Friday after. She suggested that to make things run smoother and faster at testing sites, those planning to get tested should go to www.chc1.com and fill out the needed paperwork prior to their visit and bring it with them.
The tests being done at the Saybrook site are not rapid-response tests; instead, they are “swab tests,” which Gianelli explained are the gold standard of testing for the coronavirus. Results from these tests take anywhere from two to three days to come back. People are given several choices of how to access test results electronically. If someone tests positive, they are called, and a treatment plan is discussed.
When not dealing with a pandemic, the Community Health Center, which was founded 50 years ago, is dedicated to providing medical, physiological and dental care to over 135,000 Connecticut residents annually. Traditionally, the center provides care for the underserved population, those at or below the poverty level, the uninsured or underinsured and those on Medicare.
For more information about the Old Saybrook COVID-19 virus testing site and others throughout the state, go to www.chc1.com.