At least two large, local medical centers are now providing drive-through testing for COVID-19. Stanford Health Care's Express Care clinics and Kaiser Permanente are offering the tests to patients through appointments, the medical facilities have announced.
The drive-through testing is limited to patients with symptoms who have a doctor's referral.
Patients remain in their cars during the testing, which is administered by a physician, advanced practice provider or nurse, all of whom are outfitted in protective clothing, including a gown, goggles, mask and gloves, the hospitals said in statements.
The patients are also tested for other respiratory pathogens that cause influenza or related respiratory diseases.
Use of the drive-through clinics is intended to reduce the spread of the virus in doctors' offices and other health care settings, according to the hospitals.
Media-relations staff at Sutter Health, which operates the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, declined to state whether the health organization is offering drive-through testing or not.
In an email to patients on Sunday afternoon, Sutter said several Sutter clinics now have respiratory clinics open. The email didn't state which locations have the respiratory clinics.
"The purpose of these clinics is to evaluate and treat patients with respiratory symptoms separately from the general public," the announcement said.
General COVID-189 testing for the public is not available at this time, Sutter said.
Patients can request a video visit through their My Health Online account.
Stanford drive-through clinic
A new Food and Drug Administration-approved test developed by Stanford Medicine researchers is being used at the drive-through clinics. Staff swab the inside of the patient's nose for a sample, according to Dr. Maja Artandi, medical director of the Express Care clinics.
The drive-through testing service is being offered daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Express Care's Hoover Pavilion location, 211 Quarry Road, Palo Alto. Patients must present identification to confirm their appointment, Artandi said. People without an appointment will not be tested.
Ride-hailing services, such as Uber or Lyft, should not be used, she emphasized.
Stanford will notify patients of their test results within 24 hours. If the result is positive, the patient's doctor will ensure the person receives appropriate care, which can range from telemedicine visits and self-quarantine for people with mild symptoms to hospitalization for patients with severe symptoms, she said.
"Fortunately, most of the infections are really benign," Artandi added.
Express Care, Stanford's same-day primary care program for adults and children who are 6 months or older, also recently expanded from eight to more than 150 video visit appointments each day to accommodate patient demand and to limit the virus' spread, she said.
Appointments for Express Care can be made online through MyHealth or the MyHealth app, or by calling 650-736-5211. A patient must live in California to be eligible for a video visit.
Patients can call 650-498-9000 to speak with a nurse who will assess the next step for their care. Persons who are having a medical emergency should seek emergency care, she said.
Kaiser drive-through clinic
Kaiser Permanente's medical center network has drive-through testing clinics for its patients who have been evaluated by their Kaiser physician. If the patient meets the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's criteria, they will be given a drive-through appointment, said Michelle Gaskill-Hames, RN, senior vice president for health plan and hospital operations, Kaiser Permanente Northern California.
Patients who meet criteria will be sent to a specially-equipped testing site.
Kaiser is working with county public health departments and commercial laboratories offering COVID-testing. Patients will return home under self-isolation while awaiting test results, while monitoring any symptoms and receiving additional instructions.
"We are not announcing or confirming the locations publicly because these are actually clinical appointments for patients, which are private, and the sites are not open to the public," a follow-up email stated.
"We also want to support social distancing — we want to prevent crowds of people showing up and interfering with, or slowing, the appropriate testing and care of patients who meet the medical criteria for possible COVID.
“We are confident we can safely treat patients who have been infected with this virus, with limited risk to other patients, members and employees. We are following all current CDC and State public health guidance, including protective equipment and protocols, for screening, testing, isolation and treatment. As more is understood about this virus, public health guidance recommendations may change," the hospital said in its statement.
Kaiser recommends that patients schedule a phone or video appointment by calling 866-454-8855.
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and Almanac here.