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Drive-up testing at capacity

Presbyterian Healthcare Services is launching COVID-19 drive-up testing Sunday morning after Lovelace Medical Center tested hundreds of people in two days, depleting its supplies and forcing it to reduce hours.

Presbyterian’s testing will be held at its PresNow location at 4515 Coors NW, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. everyday.

“If a patient is screened and ordered for a test, there will be a test provided onsite,” Presbyterian said in a news release.

Whitney Marquez, a Lovelace spokeswoman, said the hospital conducted 860 COVID-19 tests at its drive-up facility in the 600 block of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. NE between the hours of 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday.

Those hours will be changed to 7 a.m. to noon on Sunday due to them running low on supplies.

“Our current supplies have resulted in limited hours of operation tomorrow at our drive-through screening site, as we seek additional supplies,” she said. “We encourage only those experiencing symptoms to utilize this drive-thru screening site.”

Lovelace officials initially said the hospital planned to offer those services from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week, for the foreseeable future.

“We are doing our part to serve our community during this time of concern,” Troy Greer, CEO of Lovelace Medical Center, said. “I want our community to know that Lovelace is committed to their health and wellbeing. Our employees have been dedicated to these screening efforts and we thank them for their hard work and commitment to our community.”

All samples taken are sent to TriCore Reference Laboratories and results should be available in 48 to 72 hours later.

Roughly three dozen vehicles — including an Albuquerque Police Department SUV — lined Walter Street near Downtown Albuquerque on Saturday morning as those hoping to get tested for COVID-19 waited for the 7 a.m. opening of the drive-up site outside Lovelace Medical Center.

“An officer was not feeling well this morning and his supervisor allowed him to go get tested and go home,” APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said Saturday.

The tests appeared to take only minutes to complete.

As a driver pulls in, a staff member in protective clothing approaches and asks a series of questions. This questionnaire step takes about two minutes.

The driver is then directed to pull forward to a swabbing station where another staff member approaches and helps those inside gather a sample to be tested at a local lab. This takes about a minute.

The entire testing process, from pulling in to pulling out, takes about five minutes.

The testing site staff is asking patients for insurance information, but they aren’t turning away those without it.

On Friday, Insurance Superintendent Russell Toal issued an emergency order banning insurance companies from charging copays or similar costs on those seek testing and treatment for COVID-19.

Journal photographer Roberto E. Rosales contributed to this report.


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