Collaboration Leads to Enhanced COVID-19 Testing Capabilities
In an unparalleled effort, free clinics in Virginia increased their capabilities to offer COVID-19 testing by 550 percent in mere weeks.
The state will enter Phase Three of reopening in July thanks to steady declines in the number of cases per day along with the downward trend in hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients, increased hospital capacity, improved contact tracing and, perhaps most importantly, increased testing capabilities across the state – a direct result of efforts made by the COVID-19 Statewide Testing Advisory Council.
Formed in April by Governor Ralph Northam and led by Dr. Karen Remley, a physician and former state health commissioner, the COVID-19 Statewide Testing Advisory Council was charged with ramping up testing across the state. Virginia's Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dan Carey invited the Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (VAFCC) to participate as a key partner in this effort realizing that free clinics serve some of the most vulnerable and hardest-to-reach populations that are suffering disproportionately higher rates of infection.
Understanding the critical role free clinics play in meeting the ongoing health care needs of uninsured patients, clinics were prioritized by the council as potential testing sites for the uninsured. Special efforts were made to help overcome significant barriers free clinics faced in being able to offer COVID-19 testing, namely access to and cost associated with COVID-19 test kits and the necessary personal protective equipment required to conduct testing. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of Dr. Remley, the Virginia Association of Health Plans, the Virginia Department of Health, and the Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services, free clinics across the state that wanted to offer testing were given the resources and supplies needed to do so.
As a result, the number of free clinics offering COVID-19 testing increased 550% percent in the past weeks from just 4 clinics in April to 27 in June. These clinics are capable of conducting 560 tests a week. “This is an unparalleled effort not seen in free clinics in other states around the country,” reports Rufus Phillips, CEO of the VAFCC. “However, this collaboration between the state, health plans, and free clinics is setting a trend for the nation.”
Clinics offering on-site testing in Virginia include:
- Adams Compassionate Healthcare Network in Chantilly, VA
- Bradley Free Clinic in Roanoke, VA
- Brock Hughes Medical Center in Wytheville, VA
- Caring Hearts Free Clinic in Stuart, VA
- Community Free Clinic of Newport News in Newport News, VA
- CrossOver Healthcare Ministry in Richmond, VA
- Culmore Clinic in Falls Church, VA
- Fauquier Free Clinic in Warrenton, VA
- G Wayne Fralin Free Clinic in Roanoke, VA
- Free Clinic of Culpeper in Culpeper, VA
- Free Clinic of Franklin County in Rocky Mount, VA
- Free Clinic of Central Virginia in Lynchburg, VA
- Community Access Network in Lynchburg, VA
- Gloucester Mathews Care Clinic in Gloucester, VA
- GoochlandCares in Goochland, VA
- Guadalupe Free Clinic in Colonial Beach, VA
- Harrisonburg Rockingham Free Clinic in Harrisonburg, VA
- Health Brigade in Richmond, VA
- Ledwith-Lewis Free Clinic in Tappahonnock, VA
- Madison Free Clinic in Madison, VA
- Mel Leaman Free Clinic in Marion, VA
- Mother of Mercy Free Medical Clinic in Manassas, VA
- Northern Neck Middlesex Free Health Clinic in Kilmarnock, VA
- Pathways Free Specialty Clinic in Petersburg, VA
- St. Luke Community Clinic in Front Royal, VA
- Western Tidewater Free Clinic in Suffolk, VA