Ascension Medical Group Sacred Heart pauses drive-thru testing in Panama City because of low demand

Ascension Medical Group Sacred Heart pauses drive-thru testing site due to low demand....
Ascension Medical Group Sacred Heart pauses drive-thru testing site due to low demand. (Ascension Medical Group Sacred Heart)(WJHG)
Published: May. 20, 2020 at 11:40 AM CDT
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Ascension Medical Group Sacred Heart has discontinued testing for the coronavirus in Panama City due to low demand for its drive-thru testing service.

Ascension Medical Group began to offer COVID-19 swab testing on April 21 at Tommy Oliver Stadium to supplement other testing efforts in the community. In four weeks, the AMG team tested 234 people. Only two people tested positive for the virus.

"The turnout was fairly low and now there are several other organizations providing the testing," said Justin Labrato, chief operating officer of Ascension Medical Group Sacred Heart. "The good news is that our testing suggests the prevalence of COVID-19 in Bay County appears to be very low. Just 1% of those we tested were found to have the virus whereas statewide in Florida, about 7% of people tested to date were confirmed to have COVID-19."

If there is a spike in cases in Bay County or other areas of Northwest Florida, Ascension Sacred Heart can quickly ramp up its mobile unit to provide testing where it's needed most.

According to the latest report from the Florida Department of Health, there have been 86 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among Bay County residents, and 13 people had to be admitted to a hospital.

There are four other sites performing nasal swabs in Bay County, including two that require no out-of-pocket costs. Patients with symptoms may call the Department of Health in Bay County at (850) 872-4455. Also, PanCare is providing testing to persons with or without symptoms. PanCare can be contacted at (850) 215-4181.

"We urge county residents to continue to take measures to stay safe and prevent the virus from spreading," Labrato said. "That means washing hands frequently, and if you are around other people, wear a mask and avoid hugs, handshakes, large gatherings and close quarters."

Even though area hospitals are caring for patients with COVID-19, physicians and hospital leaders want to reassure the public that individuals who need emergency care should not delay treatment. Ascension Sacred Heart hospitals and emergency rooms are well prepared to safely care for people with symptoms of heart attack, stroke, and other serious conditions.