Drive-thru testing put on pause at local hospital

Local News

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Drive-thru testing provided by Ascension Medical Group Sacred Heart will currently be put on hold after officials say the demand wasn’t there.

The Panama City hospital started to offer COVID-19 swab testing on April 21 at Tommy Oliver Stadium to supplement other testing efforts in the community.

In four weeks, the AMG team tested 234 people. Only two people tested positive for the virus.

“The turnout was fairly low and now there are several other organizations providing the testing,” said Justin Labrato, chief operating officer of Ascension Medical Group Sacred Heart. “The good news is that our testing suggests the prevalence of COVID-19 in Bay County appears to be very low. Just 1% of those we tested were found to have the virus whereas statewide in Florida, about 7% of people tested to date were confirmed to have COVID-19.”

If there is a spike in cases in Bay County or other areas of Northwest Florida, Ascension Sacred Heart officials say they can quickly ramp up its mobile unit to provide testing where it’s needed most.

There are four other sites performing nasal swabs in Bay County, including two that require no out-of-pocket costs. Patients with symptoms may call the Department of Health in Bay County at (850) 872-4455.

Also, PanCare is providing testing to persons with or without symptoms. PanCare can be contacted at (850) 215-4181.

Even though area hospitals are caring for patients with COVID-19, physicians and hospital leaders say they want to reassure the public that individuals who need emergency care should not delay treatment.

Ascension Sacred Heart hospitals and emergency rooms are well prepared to safely care for people with symptoms of heart attack, stroke, and other serious conditions. 

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