Officials with the Allen County Health Department hope to make the procedure at two new COVID-19 testing sites as seamless as possible.
The locations, which are opening under a state plan to expand coronavirus testing statewide, will begin to serve the public this week and early next, Mindy Waldron, the health department’s administrator, said Monday during a tour of the facility on Fort Wayne’s north side.
The health department will officially announce the new sites today. They will be available to Hoosiers and their children, regardless of symptoms.
One facility is located at 1230 Ruston Pass and will open Monday. A smaller site, at 3003 Lake Ave., opens Thursday. Local health officials hope to test up to 150 people a day at each location.
The sites will be open Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The facilities will be closed Fridays and Sundays.
Everyone who wishes to get tested at one of the new sites must make an appointment. Because of the expected volume of patients, the health department prefers appointments be scheduled through an online portal at https://scheduling.coronavirus.in.gov.
For those who don’t have a computer or are having trouble with the online portal, scheduling can be done by calling 260-449-3303.
Patients should schedule through the online portal if possible, Waldron said, because it will significantly cut down on the time spent waiting in line. When scheduling an appointment, patients can fill out most of the required forms ahead of time, eliminating the need for a clinic employee to complete an interview during check-in.
“We’re really encouraging, once you make the appointment, to complete preregistration,” Waldron said.
The county health department was able to open the sites through a grant from the Indiana State Department of Health, with some county funds to supplement. The grant, which Waldron said was about $400,000 and covers close to 90% of the cost, provides testing supplies and equipment including test kits, personal protective equipment, sanitizer and the platform for registration and data management.
The renewable grant continues through June 30.
Standing in the foyer of an unassuming brick office building near East Dupont Road, Waldron pointed to large stickers and signs that direct the line around a corner to a large room, where several “chutes” comprised of tall, thin traffic cones and bright yellow chains direct the queue to check in at one of three Plexiglas-screened tables placed throughout the area. After checking in, the patient will be directed to a testing room, where a nasal swab will be collected.
Lab results will be available in two to four days and will be delivered to the patient via email or text message. Results are also available by calling the Indiana State Department of Health at 877-826-0011. The Allen County Health Department will not provide results directly.
It took about five weeks to find suitable testing sites and get everything ready to open, Waldron said. The Allen County Commissioners approved a lease agreement for the Ruston Pass location this month.
Patients older than 8 years old must wear face coverings completely over the nose and mouth while at the testing site. Masks are recommended for anyone over the age of 2.
State-run Optum testing sites, which include one at 3420 E. Paulding Road, continue to offer testing.
Another 37 Allen County residents have tested positive for the virus, the health department said Monday. That brings the total to 6,340 confirmed cases and 200 deaths.
The Indiana State Department of Health on Monday said another 879 people had been diagnosed with the virus statewide, bringing Indiana’s total confirmed cases to 118,322 and 3,365 deaths.
“Another 226 probable deaths were reported, based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record,” the state department of health said in a news release.