AU Health's drive-through looking to help fight the battle against coronavirus

Wednesday, March 18, 2020
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

Augusta University Health is looking to its drive-through coronavirus testing facility to help identify patients who have the virus. (Source: WRDW)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Augusta University Health is looking to its drive-through coronavirus testing facility to help identify patients who have the virus.

The drive-through testing a big asset for the Augusta area because around both the state and country, labs are struggling to keep up with
the demand.

THE LATEST: Coverage of the coronavirus on WRDW.com.

[RELATED: FACTS, NOT FEAR: What you need to know about the coronavirus in GA, SC]

[CLOSINGS: View a list of closings across the CSRA.]

[INTERACTIVE MAP: View a map of all COVID-19 cases and deaths around the world.]

Daily, the Georgia Department of Health’s state lab is only able to verify about 200 tests. Do the math -- that’s not going to be enough for the state’s 159 counties.

So, AU’s testing site is a significant step for the area.

“We are aggressively trying to increase our testing capacity,” AU Chief Medical Officer Dr. Phillip Coule said.

And it all starts with the drive-through.

You schedule an appointment. Pull up in your car, medical staff swab your nose, package the sample, and hand it off to a separate location. Results come back in about 48 to 72 hours.

“The fact that we’re able to perform the test is unique and we’re fortunate about that,” Coule said.

But not everyone can get tested. Typically, officials are testing those who have been near someone with the virus plus they’re displaying infection symptoms.

These standards are due to limited testing kits.

“We can run six every couple hours in terms of our lab,” Coule said.

Additionally, health experts limit who gets tested because they say they want to limit the chance of false positives, which would
decrease the chance of a poor accuracy rate.

When it comes to how long this drive-through lasts, AU says it’ll remain for the foreseeable future.

“Really as long as the community needs us, we’re prepared to scale our situation to support the citizens of this area,” Chief Innovation Officer Mallory Myers said.

It’s all made possible through a team of specialists who are developing new technology through the university’s molecular lab, also known as the GEM lab.

When it comes to safety, the car acts as an isolation unit. AU tells us this, along with the protective gear, is a safe way to test for COVID-19 in a matter of minutes -- which means this can transform Augusta’s fight in a matter of moments.

“We’re taking care of the community, we’re taking care of patients, our patients first -- that’s what we believe in,” Coule said. “And we will take care of anyone”

To be considered for the test, you must pass the screening available through AU’s health app.

The Christenberry Fieldhouse testing location is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily for scheduled patients only.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.