Gloved hand holding up tube with positive COVID test result

Community COVID-19 Testing Launched

By on 08/05/2020

Thanks to a grant from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Einstein Healthcare Network has begun offering expanded COVID-19 testing for the community around Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia.

Testing, which began July 27, is offered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

People who want to be tested must make an appointment by calling 1-800-EINSTEIN.

The tests – about 200 each week – are being funded by a six-month, $457,000 grant as part of a Philadelphia’s effort to expand community access to testing.

Commitment to Community

Providing COVID testing is an important part of Einstein’s commitment to the community, says Dixie James, Chief Operating Officer of Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia.

“Because of the disproportionate impact of illness, hardship and deaths on the black and brown communities we serve, we wanted to be intentional about doing all we can to fight this pandemic, inside and outside the hospital walls,” she says.

“Testing is an important component of that, but as a safety net hospital, obviously our resources are constricted. The grant is just in time and we’re so grateful for it.”

Testing is being done at 5583 Park Ave. (Park Avenue and Tabor Road), one block below the Olney Transportation Center and across the street from the hospital.

Symptoms or Exposure

The tests are open to anyone in the community who has new symptoms that could be caused by COVID-19 or has been recommended for testing after exposure to someone known to be infected.

“We know that our community is in need of testing,” says Juanita Way, Associate Vice President for Healthcare Services at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia and manager of the community testing project.

“Access is a challenge, especially access with convenient hours, which is why we have early morning, late evening and Saturday hours. Most testing sites are drive-by, but many people in our community don’t  drive. So having a space that they could walk to from home or work, that’s right down the street from the bus transportation service, is actually a win, win situation.”

Einstein will send test results and other information to the health department, says Eric Sachinwalla, MD, Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control for Einstein Healthcare Network. If someone tests positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, the health department staff will pursue contact tracing to find out who else might have been exposed.

“We want to identify who might be sick early so we can work with our public health colleagues in stopping the spread in our community,” he says.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to some common questions about the testing program.

If I want a test, what should I do?

Call 1-800-EINSTEIN. When prompted, push five (5) to be forwarded to the COVID test schedulers.

What happens then?

The schedulers will ask you a series of questions to determine whether you meet testing criteria. If you qualify, the scheduler will collect demographic and insurance information and schedule your appointment.

Who qualifies to get tested?

Testing is available for anyone with new symptoms that could be caused by COVID-19.

Qualifying symptoms include either cough or shortness of breath, OR any two of the following:

  • Fever 
  • Chills 
  • Muscle pain 
  • Sore throat 
  • Headache 
  • Loss of taste or smell  

Do I need a prescription from my doctor?

A prescription for testing is not required.

If I don’t fall into one of the high-priority groups, can I still get tested?

The number of appointments offered each week is expected to cover everyone who meets the criteria for testing. However, if demand is heavy, members of high-risk groups will be given priority.

Where will testing take place?

Tests are done on Einstein Philadelphia’s campus at  5583 Park Ave. The building is across from SEPTA’s Olney Transportation Center and one block from Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia.

COVID-19 testing site, 5583 Park Ave.
COVID-19 testing site, 5583 Park Ave.

What are the hours of operation?

The tests are offered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Appointments are scheduled every 15 minutes.

How and when will I get my results?

Einstein processes its own tests in the lab at the Philadelphia hospital. A member of the Einstein staff will call you with tests results within three days after your appointment.

How much does the test cost?

There is no out-of-pocket cost for patients. Einstein will bill insurance for the cost of the test. If you don’t have insurance, you can still get tested.  You may also qualify for medical assistance. Einstein staff will follow up to help get you enrolled.

What steps are being taken to protect patients and staff at the testing site?

Appointments are scheduled every 15 minutes to minimize contact with other people, although the test itself takes only about two minutes. No walk-ups are accepted.

No more than three people at a time can use the waiting room, with social distancing. People receiving tests must wear masks.

The site has several rooms, which allows for separation from other people being tested. Each tester is assigned to a testing room.  Staff at the site clean and sanitize the room after each patient visit All staff will wear a surgical facemask or N95 respirator, protective eye wear, gloves, and an isolation gown.

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