Local hospital begins testing asymptomatic residents for COVID-19


BONIFAY, Fla. (WMBB)–Cars could be seen lining up all day Tuesday at Doctors Memorial Hospital in Bonifay. The hospital began a three-day drive-thru testing clinic for COVID-19. But unlike other testing sites, patients do not have to meet any guidelines or present any symptoms. The hospital says they believe the country is behind on testing, and they believe testing every individual is the only way to get accurate data.

“It means a lot because for a small hospital, it could be a model, and if it’s done in a small hospital, it can be done anywhere,” said Dr. Ata Ulhaq, the Acting CEO of Doctors Memorial Hospital.

The hospital’s goal is to test all residents who wish to be tested for the coronavirus. Even those showing no symptoms at all.

“We will know what kind of people are getting more sicker, we know those with underlying comorbid factors but we have younger people also,” said Dr. Ulhaq.

The hospital believes the only way to stop the spread is to determine who’s carrying the virus without even knowing it.

“If you don’t know, then you’re gonna be out, going to the grocery store and infecting people that may be more vulnerable,” said Cynthia Brooks, a board member for the hospital’s Board of Trustees.

With many people being denied testing, doctors say the current data can’t be accurate. They say there’s still a lot to be known.

“We will know the attack rate, we will know the realness of this organism. Right now, we know the numerator only,” Dr. Ulhaq said.

Patients with insurance can have the test billed to their providers. Otherwise, the test is free.

The drive-thru clinic is made possible through the hospital staff’s hard work. The hospital recently underwent a structural reorganization; getting more staff on board and improving the hospital’s capabilities.

“We had some people on board that sort of saw things coming and began to get prepared long before other hospitals did,” Brooks said.

Doctors Memorial Hospital will be testing again on Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 a.m. until 3 p.m. The hospital is located at 2600 Hospital Drive in Bonifay. You do not have to be a Holmes County resident to be tested.

The hospital says they will continue to work hard to secure more testing kits with hopes of continuing testing again in the future.

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