UW gives drive-through COVID-19 tests to patients

UW Medicine patients are getting checked for coronavirus at a drive-through station set up in a hospital clinic’s parking lot.

A similar station was created a couple of weeks ago inside a parking garage at UW Medical Center Northwest, to test employees of the University of Washington’s medical system. The by-appointment-only station was set up near the original site, at the hospital’s outpatient clinic, and began serving high-risk patients on March 16.

“We have already started to do testing in the hospital emergency department and some clinics. But there are a number of our patients who may not be appropriate for sending in to those environments, to minimize the risk of infection to themselves, and perhaps to others,” Thomas Hei, director of outpatient services for UW Medical Center, explained in a UW video about the operation.

Patients can drive to a spot where they roll down the window and have nasal swab samples taken without getting out of the car. The process takes only a few minutes. Samples are then sent to the lab for processing, with results available within a couple of days.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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