!st COVID-19 testing site opens in Fort Bend County

Medical assistants Belinda Hernandez, left, and Alicia Bell, test a resident for COVID-19 in a drive-thru lane at OakBend Medical Center’s Sugar Land branch on Thursday morning. The site is the first in Fort Bend County. Residents must be prescreened before they will be allowed to be tested at the site. OakBend expects to test up to 125 people each day. Results will be available within 48 hours.

Medical assistants Belinda Hernandez and Alicia Bell, clad in face masks, face shields, gloves and body-length protective gowns, tested Fort Bend County residents for COVID-19 early Thursday.

Each test was conducted in less than three minutes in a drive-thru line at OakBend Medical Center’s Sugar Land branch location.

The rapid process is due in part to the driver and passenger being screened in advance.

OakBend hopes to test up to 125 people daily.

“We’re going to test as long as we can and until this pandemic ends,” said Linda Drummond, a spokesperson for OakBend.

At this time the test is limited to those who are 65 years old or older, or who have underlying medical conditions.

The test costs $100 for people without insurance. People with insurance will have to pay a $40 deductible and the remainder of the fee will be paid through their insurance.

Results will be available in 24-48 hours.

Anyone wishing to be tested should call the hospital’s tele-health line at 281-238-7870.

Dr. Gildardo Ceballos, who practices internal medicine at OakBend, said callers will be asked their age, if they’ve come into contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19, and whether they’ve traveled overseas or have symptoms attributed to the novel coronavirus, such as a fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, etc.

Callers who are believed to have COVID-19 symptoms are then directed to OakBend’s Sugar Land branch and tested.

Drummond said the prescreening will prevent long lines of automobiles at the site.

OakBend personnel will be on hand to direct traffic.

Dr. Mehjabin Parkar, a family practitioner who provides services at OakBend’s Richmond Parkway location, said medical assistants conducting the tests have themselves tested negative for the virus. They’ll also be clothed head to foot in protective gear, she said.

On Thursday morning, Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls and Deputy Maj. Chad Norvell were on hand to give away free bottles of disinfectant to residents.

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