The University of Tennessee Health Science Center continues to work to expand community access to testing for COVID-19 by adding new drive-thru testing sites that will be open a few days a week in areas of need in the community. The first of these sites opened Tuesday in Frayser at the North Frayser Community Center, 2555 Saint Elmo Avenue.
“I am excited that UTHSC is partnering with city and county officials to ensure testing for all of our communities,” said College of Medicine Executive Dean Scott Strome, MD. “We are hopeful that this testing will allow us to better understand the incidence of COVID-19 in symptomatic patients, so that we can reduce spread throughout our region.”
The Frayser site is a similar, but smaller, version of the drive-thru testing site at Tiger Lane at the Mid-South Fairgrounds that was established in March by UTHSC and its affiliated clinical practice partner, University Clinical Health, in collaboration with the Shelby County Health Department and the City of Memphis. The scheduling procedure at the new site also is similar to that used for Tiger Lane. Appointments can be made by texting “covid” to 901.203.5526.
The Tiger Lane site did not operate on opening day of the Frayser site, because equipment and personnel moved to the new location. It reopened today, and Jon McCullers, MD, interim senior executive associate dean for Clinical Affairs in the UTHSC College of Medicine, said he expects the fairgrounds site to remain the primary UTHSC testing location.
While the Frayser site will be open only one day this week, it is tentatively scheduled to be open Monday through Wednesday next week. Tiger Lane, will be open Thursday through Saturday. The hours are tentatively 8:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.
“It’s an evolving process, as we’re trying to figure out what’s the best way to meet the needs of the community,” Dr. McCullers said. He added that the two may operate at the same time in the future if the demand warrants, as guidelines for who can be tested ease to include those with mild or moderate symptoms.
Initial discussions by the university about opening several sites have evolved as more organizations have provided testing in the community. “The question is then, how many more sites do we need, is one more site enough, or two more sites enough,” Dr. McCullers said. “We’ve kind of settled on, we’re going to open up probably two more sites, maybe three, that we are going to staff maybe a couple of times a week, so we can rotate and have one to two sites open around the city. That way, we’re covering more, but we’re not concentrating all in one place and we’re not deploying a huge amount of resources if there isn’t demand for it.”