AFC Urgent Care, PM Pediatrics, PhysicianOne, and some area CVS stores are among the locations offering either antibody or molecular COVID-19 tests.
By Melanie Grados and Dexter McCann
Since the COVID-19 outbreak began to impact West Hartford, there has been plenty of confusion as to which tests were available and where tests could be administered. Representatives from We-Ha.com have spoken to a number of different West Hartford urgent care facilities and pharmacies, and many have informed us that they are offering COVID-19 tests to the general public.
The ability to have widespread testing – of approximately 42,000 residents per week statewide, is a key metric being used by the state in plans for reopening certain sectors of the economy.
There are two different types of COVID-19 tests that are now available in West Hartford and relevant at this stage in the pandemic.
The first is the molecular test, which indicates if a patient is currently infected with the COVID-19 virus. This test is designed for people who have symptoms or believe they may be infected with the virus due to exposure to others who are infected – not for those who believe they may have had it in the past.
Tests are sometimes administered, however, to those who have previously been COVID-19-positive and no longer have symptoms, to determine if they have recovered.
The molecular test can be done in drive-by format and although monitored by a healthcare professional is often administered by the patient themself. It uses a long swab that is placed into the back of the nose to collect molecular particles that may contain the COVID-19 virus.
Speed of results differs depending on the laboratory used, and while the average response time has been about 3-5 days, now that more laboratory facilities are available in state results are more often being returned in 24-48 hours.
The other available test is the antibody test, which can be used to see if a person had been infected with COVID-19 at a prior time. For a person to be able to take the antibody test, they must have not exhibited symptoms of the virus for 14 days.
The test is conducted by taking blood samples from the patient. Much like the molecular test, test results are usually available within 3-5 days, but results are also beginning to be returned in a shorter timeframe.
To be eligible for an antibody test at an urgent care facility, a patient must first have a virtual screening with a doctor from that facility, to be certain that that patient is not a risk to spread COVID-19 in-person. In most cases, scheduling this screening can be done over the phone or on the website of one of the urgent care facilities.
As the state plans to reopen, American Family Care Urgent Care (AFC) is now administering the antibody blood test at its urgent care clinic in West Hartford as well as in three Danbury centers, Torrington, Vernon, and New Britain. The West Hartford location can be found at 1030 Boulevard.
Prospective patients can schedule appointments using the AFC TeleCare virtual medicine platform for their convenience, although appointments are not required in order to receive the test.
AFC said test results are usually available within 24-48 hours. Results showing the presence of antibodies do not guarantee immunity to COVID-19.
In addition to antibody testing, AFC also provides COVID-19 testing. They urge patients with symptoms to contact medical providers via AFC TeleCare or curbside visit for an evaluation. If patients fulfill the testing requirements, they will be scheduled for a COVID-19 test.
One of the other West Hartford urgent care facilities providing testing is PM Pediatrics, which is located at 1459A New Britain Ave. in Corbin’s Corner. As of now, the antibody test is the only available test at this location.
Scheduling for a test can be done on the PM Pediatrics website, which involves setting up an account within their system. The patient meets with a doctor online before the test is given, a meeting facilitated by PM Pediatrics, so that the safety of all parties can be assured. When that virtual screening is done, the test is administered in person at the facility, and results are generally available within 2-4 days.
Both the antibody test and the molecular test are available at the PhyscianOne Urgent Care on 21 North Main St. in West Hartford. Both tests must be booked in advance, which can be done on the PhyscianOne website.
At PhysicanOne, the molecular tests are conducted in drive-by format, where the patient is given the test to administer themself outside the facility. This is done under the supervision of a certified healthcare specialist to ensure that the test is completed properly. Results are available within 3-5 days.
Like at the aforementioned urgent care facilities, PhysicianOne requires a virtual or by-phone screening to be completed before the antibody test can be administered. That visit can be scheduled using the PhyscianOne platform online.
According to the Town of West Hartford website, testing is also being conducted at the Hartford Health Care-Go Health Urgent Care, 336 North Main St. and ProHealth Physicians Express at 631 Quaker Lane South.
In addition, two Hartford CVS locations have now made the molecular test available in drive-by format. The first location is 479 Blue Hills Avenue and the second location is 150 Washington St. Much like the urgent care facilities, the test must be booked online and then is administered in-person by the patient within their vehicle, with results being made available approximately three days after the completion of the test.
West Hartford’s first responders, and their immediate families, can be tested at the Brace Road fire station through a new collaboration with Jackson Labs in Farmington. More information can be found here.
The COVID-19 pandemic is an outgoing crisis and the circumstances surround testing and its availability are constantly changing. That being said, both molecular and antibody testing are currently available to everybody, regardless of symptoms or contact with someone known to be exposed.
For those with health insurance, each test is covered without any out of pocket cost. For those uninsured, a government fund exists to cover costs and make sure every American has equal access to testing. As a result, finding a COVID-19 test in West Hartford has never been more convenient.
Being symptomatic is no longer a requirement to get tested. Gov. Ned Lamont obtained the molecular test earlier this week.
Lamont is urging residents to get tested now because Connecticut has far more testing capacity and is rapidly expanding its ability to check people for COVID-19. He said he decided to be tested because he wanted to “lead by example.” On Wednesday the governor reported that his test results were negative.
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