Local hospitals offering drive-up coronavirus testing with specific protocol

Potential patients are to be pre-screened by their primary doctor

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Local hospitals are beginning drive-through testing for the coronavirus.

Both Gundersen and Mayo Clinic Health Systems are allowing people to get tested where they don’t have to walk-in.

“We have instituted a policy here of not having more than 10 people in the room at one time,” Mayo Clinic Health System physician Paul Molling said.

Both Mayo Clinic and Gundersen health systems are giving people tests for the virus in their cars.

“Idea behind this is to protect our community,” Molling said. “Protecting our community is bringing patients away from our clinics and our hospitals if they believe that they’re infected.”

But there are specific requirements for you to get tested.

“We don’t want someone just showing up to the clinic unannounced,” Gundersen Health System infection preventionist Megan Meller said. “They need to be pre-screened. And so in order to be pre-screened, they need to reach out to their primary care doctor.”

Health officials advise you to tell your doctor if you’re experiencing any symptoms of the coronavirus, including a fever, shortness of breath or dry cough.

Your doctor will also ask you if you’ve recently traveled to any parts of the world that are infected by the virus.

“If they meet that criteria, then they would be given the ‘ok’ to come here for testing,” Meller said.

Patients don’t even have to get out of their car to get tested. All they have to do is pull up to the entrance. And then, each patient will be swabbed.

“Turnaround time is anywhere between 24-48 hours,” Meller said.

Each patient will then be told the results of their test by the local health department or healthcare provider.

Meller says these testing options are always on the table.

“These are a part of our emergency preparedness plans,” Meller said. “We hope to never have to use them. But when we can, we can activate them pretty rapidly.”

And as tests go on, health experts don’t want you to panic.

“Just please remain calm,” Molling said. “I ask our community members.”

Meller says that not only are these tests being done for COVID-19, but also for the flu.

According to the CDC, there have been about 36 million cases of the flu this season in the US.

Testing is available at the Mayo Clinic location in La Crosse or the Gundersen location in Onalaska.

Make sure you call your primary doctor first.

They will not test people who have not followed protocol.