Blount Memorial Hospital is offering one of our area's first drive-through screening sites for COVID-19 in Alcoa for local residents and patients.
The testing at East Tennessee Medical Group, located at 266 Joule Street in Alcoa, started Wednesday morning and will be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
“We’re extremely glad to be one of the first facilities in our area to offer drive-through screening and testing for coronavirus,” said Blount Memorial chief medical officer Dr. Harold Naramore. “It’s important to know, however, that this is not a coronavirus ‘check-up’ and that we will not test simply because someone is worried
Not everyone who shows up at the screening site will be tested for coronavirus, officials said. They must meet specific guidelines, including a temperature of 100.4° or greater upon arrival or in the last few days, with an acute respiratory illness that includes either a cough or shortness of breath.
Dr. Naramore said that on Monday, they did see a large number of people who had symptoms that met the testing criteria.
RELATED: KCHD: Second coronavirus case reported in Knox County actually lives outside US; 73 total cases in Tennessee
People will remain in their vehicles and staff members will come to the window to evaluate their need for testing. In addition to testing for coronavirus, they will be testing for flu.
“This drive-through set up is for people in our community who are experiencing specific symptoms, and we ask our community to help us be good stewards of resources and only come if your physician’s office directs you to or if you have symptoms that mirror our screening guidelines,” said Dr. Naramore.
Anyone who qualifies for testing will have to complete paperwork and will be asked for a driver's license and insurance card. Workers will then take a swab and it will be sent off for testing.
No insurance copays were collected because it is Blount Memorial’s understanding that most insurance carriers are covering COVID-19 testing with no out-of-pocket expense. They caution that every carrier is different and things are constantly changing so you check with your insurance provider for details.
"Blount Memorial does incur a cost for use of a private lab for testing, so we do have a self-pay rate. We encourage anyone in our community, including both insured and uninsured, to review our charity care guidelines with our business office staff or on our website," a hospital spokesperson said in a statement.
If you feel like you need to be tested, whether it's at this site or any other, you should always call your doctor's office or health department first for guidance. You should never show up at a medical facility with symptoms without calling ahead.
RELATED: "There's a great need right now" Childcare facilities in Tennessee to remain open to help parents