Drive-thru COVID-19 testing center to open Monday

Beginning on Monday a drive-thru COVID-19 testing center will open at the Finney County Fairgrounds in the West Pavilion.

Colleen Drees, Finney County Health Department director, said earlier this month the Kansas Department of Health and Environment approached the Health Department about the ability to provide more testing supplies to support the county with a drive-thru screening.

“We jumped at the opportunity to provide this service for our community,” she said. “As we follow the same trend as other communities with a gradual increase in positive cases, a drive-thru screening process allows us to logistically handle the increased number of tests, increased traffic flow and also limit our exposure to the staff who are conducting the screenings.”

Testing is by appointment only, Drees said. They are testing patients who are symptomatic.

“If you’re not symptomatic then you wouldn’t test positive,” she said. “You have to be symptomatic to actually test positive. If you don’t have symptoms going on then you’d be negative.”

Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, shortness of breath and loss of taste and smell.

The test is nasopharyngeal, meaning a swab goes in your nose to get the sample.

The process to get tested will follow the current Health Department operations, Drees said.

“We still screen patients over the COVID-19 Hotline, then if they have the symptoms we’ll make an appointment to test those who fit the criteria set forth by KDHE,” she said.

Testing site hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Stephen Green, Finney County Emergency Management Director, said to enter the testing site, those with appointments will come down Isabel Ave., take a left on Ninth St. where a sign will direct them to a staging area.

A Health Department representative and law enforcement personnel will direct the person down the main road, which will be defined with traffic cones, to the West Pavilion, Green said.

Green said they encourage patients to drive no more than 15 mph, to not use cell phones — to not take pictures or talk on the phone, and to turn radios off.

Once patients reach the second staging area they will check their identification to make sure they do have an appointment and may be quizzed on a few questions from medical staff before being directed to the testing location inside the facility, Green said.

“Once you enter the facility we ask that you put your car in park and disengage your engine, turn your engine off and follow the directions from our health professionals,” he said. “Once the test is completed our health professional will package the specimen, confirm the identification and you will be directed to restart your engine, put your seat belt back on and exist the building following the traffic cones.”

Drees said turnaround time on the test results is typically 24 to 72 hours. All of the tests are going to the KDHE lab.

It’s exciting to be able to offer this testing platform to the community, to be able to test more symptomatic patients, Drees said.

“This is important because it allows us the possibility of testing more individuals each day,” she said. “It also helps us with traffic flow and it also limits exposure to our staff members. It's of course very convenient for citizens so that they can stay in their car at all times, they don't even need to get out.”