Starting Monday, UAB hospital, in partnership with the Jefferson County Department of Health, will offer testing for COVID-19.
Officials say the drive-thru testing center will be located at University Blvd and 22nd Street South, at a former Southern Research Institute site.
The center will be open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and is by appointment only. UAB has set up a call line that will be open seven days a week from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. Symptomatic patients must call and go through a screening process to set up an appointment. Patients can call the center starting Sunday at noon. The number is 205-975-1881.
UAB officials anticipate the drive-thru site will be able to test up to 250 people a day.
“That amount is not adequate for the need in the community,” said Jordan DeMoss, vice president of clinical operations at UAB Medicine. “This is our first site that we will be opening. We’re working to align access to testing with the lab capabilities that are expanding across our community and also the testing supplies that are in limited supply across the nation.”
DeMoss said they hope to open additional testing sites in the next few weeks.
UAB’s pathology laboratories began testing internally for COVID-19 on Friday, with limited tests for UAB in-patients, employees and patients in the emergency department.
“We will be testing primarily priority in-patients at UAB Hospital so we can preserve negative pressure rooms,” said Dr. Sixto Leal, a lead researcher in the department of pathology.
Negative pressure rooms are used to isolate patients. They keep airborne contaminants, like a virus, from leaving the contained room and flowing throughout the hospital.
UAB’s laboratory-developed test for COVID-19 is similar to the one administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers say they are working with companies such as GenMark and Roche to use their equipment and supplies, increasing access to certain testing products that are in short supply.
Across Alabama and nationwide, testing for COVID-19 has been limited, with state and private laboratories overwhelmed by demand and patients frustrated by delayed results.
Public testing for COVID-19 is also available through the Alabama Department of Public Health, with a health provider’s referral. In general, experts say only those who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 should be tested. In all cases, they recommend calling a health provider before showing up to a clinic or hospital.