Lately, a typical day at a local urgent care office is more than a sports injury or allergy complaints. The COVID-19 pandemic has made testing for the virus a large part of their mission.
AppleCare in Statesboro is testing for COVID-19 and also for the coronavirus antibodies to determine whether someone has already had or been exposed to the disease. Statesboro AppleCare Practice Manager Cynthia Barnes said the new service started being offered at the office on Brannen Street last week and is being requested more and more by area residents concerned they be infected.
COVID-19 testing is also available through other venues, such as the Southeast Health District and the specimen collection center at the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fairgrounds on Hwy. 67, but an advantage of testing at AppleCare is that patients can get results back faster, according to Barnes.
“We use different labs and while tests from the Department of Public Health might take up to seven days, here we can get the results back in as little as three days,” she said.
Also, while people need an appointment at the DPH center, AppleCare will take walk-ins. “We do set up appointments, but if someone walks in we can do the swab right there and not send them somewhere else.”
The COVID-19 test involves an invasive nasal swab similar to a flu test swab, but lasts a bit longer.
“A flu swab takes about two seconds and one turn, while a COVID-19 swab takes about 10 seconds and at least two turns,” said AppleCare nurse Melinda Phillips.
While it is not a pleasant procedure, she said they are so concerned about possibly having the virus, they concentrate more on awaiting results. Many are nervous and ask questions, Phillips said. Some claim the swab isn’t as unpleasant as they expected, but other “say it is the worst thing they ever experienced. They have asked ‘did you touch my brain?’”
The antibody test also requires a nasal swab, although possibly not quite as unpleasant, and blood tests to detect two agents that indicate the presence of coronavirus antibodies, Barnes said.
The first week, AppleCare conducted more than 15 antibody tests and about 60 COVID-19 tests, she said.
The testing is covered by most insurance plans, but if someone has no insurance, there is a fee, she said.
A single COVID-19 test swab is likely free – definitely so if they send patients to the DPH site on Fair Road, but “the labs we use will work with patients and the tests are likely free, too.”
If a patient is billed, however, the swab is $100.
For an appointment or more information, call AppleCare at (912) 871-6611.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.