As the number of U.S. COVID-19 cases expands, some healthcare providers are rolling out drive-through testing to help protect patients and healthcare workers from contracting the virus. Alice Pediatric Clinic is prepared to perform drive-up testing for COVID-19 starting this week where patients can get tested without entering the pediatric office.

The drive-up testing is only for their patients and started on Tuesday.

Patients will be seen by a physician who will determine if the patient needs to be tested based on CBC guidelines. Testing will be paid through the patient’s insurance. The clinic is open Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m.

“Our families personal vehicles is now their triage/exam room, and if necessary from the parking lot we needed to able to collect swabs in a safe and efficient manner,” Dr. Erik Nisimblat said.

To this end, a tent is located outside in the back of the Pediatric Practice and everything about the space is designed to cut down on the spread of the virus.

However, in order to protect our healthcare providers from direct exposure to potential COVID-19 cases, the Alice Pediatric Clinic needed to design a set up that would be adequate for medical providers to collect test swab specimens from potentially at-risk cases to help prevent the spread of the contagion.

Despite the providers wearing their personal protective equipment (PPE) which includes gowns, gloves, respirator face masks and eye protection to exam patients additional protection would be needed to collect the test swab specimens.

Test swab collection requires a much closer encounter between the healthcare provider and the patient. Furthermore, collecting the sample typically causes the patient to either sneeze or cough potentially aerosolizing the virus. The doctors and nurses knew that another layer of protection was needed.

As they say “necessity is the mother of invention.” Creating an additional barrier to actually separate the provider and patient was a necessity.

Fortunately, through ingenuity and productive assistance of local business owner, Brent Hoffman we were able to see our vision come to fruition. Brent of Rockin’ h Ranch Services Design + Build firm out of Alice was able to quickly respond to the clinics needs. He constructed a portable Plexiglas booth with incorporated shoulder-length arm coverings allowing the healthcare worker to sit or stand behind, while safely collecting the test swab from patients; thus, mitigating unnecessary exposure to the virus.

“After consulting with the medical director’s needs we determined that a rolling station was needed, with clear visualization of the patient that allowed for close proximity, and a station that could easily be disinfected between patients. Having kids of our own and witnessing the seriousness of this pandemic it was evident the importance this testing design barrier would provide to our community. We pray that it stays away from our community, but were happy to design something that can help prevent the spread of this virus that is changing the world we know,” said Brent Hoffman, owner of Rockin’ h Ranch Services Design + Build.

“This is the beauty of our small town, people coming together using the resources available and God-given talents to assist in the well-being of our community, “said Donna Lara, Alice Pediatric Clinic office manager.

Alice Pediatric Clinic follows the CDC and Texas Department of Health and Human Services guidelines to proceed with the assessment of our patients to determine the need of COVID-19 testing. If meeting the requirement, patients’ swabs will be collected and sent to a third-party lab for testing. Patients would then be directed home for self-quarantine until the result is reported to the physician at which point plan of care is then adjusted.

The coronavirus has not disrupted normal operation hours. However, the Clinic has adjusted their workflow to the current situation and are very conscientious of the safety that is required.

“We are committed to our community and we will always provide the best care possible to our patients, especially as new needs present themselves,” Dr. Nisimblat said. “I urge our entire community to practice social distancing to preserve the health care system’s ability to attend to those in need. We are grateful to our staff that have taken this situation to heart and have not stopped to serve our patients.”

Quoting Saint Maxmillion Kolbe, “Let us remember that love lives through sacrifice ....without sacrifice, there is no love,” as such, Dr. Nisimblat urges, “This is what our practice is asking from you. Love your family and community through self-sacrifice. This is done by heeding the advice of your healthcare professionals and community leaders by the practice of social distancing, follow shelter-in-place orders, avoid touching your face, using good and frequent hand washing.”