MERIDEN — Hartford HealthCare opened two new COVID-19 testing trailers Tuesday to help meet the demand for testing amid the omicron spike.
Testing trailers at MidState Medical Center and the Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain are open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to people who make appointments. While the Hospital of Central Connecticut is open seven days a week, the trailer at MidState is open the same hours Monday through Friday.
The procedures are supervised nasal swab PCR tests and results can be expected in about 48 to 93 hours.
“It’s pretty obvious, there is a community need for increased testing,” said Dr. Jeff Finkelstein, vice president of medical affairs at MidState Medical Center and the Hospital of Central Connecticut. “The omicron spike is larger than we expected and has overwhelmed community resources.”
To make an appointment at one of HHC’s seven testing trailers visit https://hartfordhealthcare.org/health.../coronavirus/testing.
HHC officials have said the testing trailers are equipped to handle about 200 daily visits and will increase testing capability overall by more than 1,000 tests per day to 5,000 daily tests..
The demand for COVID-19 testing has inundated the 19 urgent care Go-Health centers throughout the network leading to upwards of 1,800 to 2,000 tests per day.
“Our MediQuik (urgent care center) is seeing record numbers of patients, and 75 to 80 percent are having testing,” Finkelstein said. “We are maxing our capacity and adding more resources.”
Testing has also spiked at Meriden’s testing center on Orange Street with cars lining up at 7 a.m. for a saliva test processed at Wren Laboratories. The center, as with other state PCR testing sites, was canceled Tuesday due to extreme cold temperatures. The center is typically open Tuesday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Results are within 2-5 days.
Hartford HealthCare is sending its tests to Quest Laboratories but the increased testing has challenged the workforce. Finkelstein said. Health care workers from other departments are working the test centers to keep the trailers open seven days a week. There is also the need for follow up care for those testing positive.
“We are redeploying from other jobs to meet this very important need,” Finkelstein said. “This is all hands on deck.”
People who should be tested include those who have symptoms or a recent exposure, are traveling or need to return to work or school. Symptomatic patients should be tested as early as possible in the event they require monoclonal antibody or other COVID fighting treatments. This is especially important for people over age 75 or those over age 55 with comorbidities. Those who test positive through an at-home test kit, should assume they have COVID-19 and isolate. There is no need for a PCR test unless they require treatment, Finkelstein said.
Meriden city officials expressed gratitude to Hartford HealthCare for opening the testing trailer at MidState.
“I'd like to thank our partners at Hartford HealthCare and MidState Medical Center for expanding access to testing in our community at this critical point in the pandemic,” Mayor Kevin Scarpati stated on social media. “Please do not use the hospital Emergency Department for testing.”
In a note of optimism, Hartford HealthCare officials told reporters Tuesday that about 30 percent of the 534 hospitalizations systemwide are for patients who came to the hospital for conditions not related to COVID but tested positive for the virus. They also said most of the patients in the ICU or on ventilators have not received a booster vaccine, and they continue to encourage boosters.
Health experts also said that based upon data in the United Kingdom and New York City, both the positivity rate and subsequent hospitalizations are expected to decrease after Jan. 15 or Jan. 21.