October 16, 2021

Virus testing site opens

Travis Dunn/staff reporter

If you are tested for coronavirus at Guthrie Cortland Medical Center, which opened a drive-through testing site Tuesday, you will be approached by three medical workers in protective gear. one will use a nasal swab to collect a sample for testing.

Can’t stop coughing? Feeling feverish? Have you lost your sense of taste or smell?

If you’ve developed symptoms of what you worry might be COVID-19, Cortland now has a drive-through site where you can be tested. It opened Tuesday morning on West Main Street, with its first appointment scheduled at 11 a.m., with five more scheduled later that day. The site is run by Guthrie Cortland in coordination with the Cortland County Health Department.

If you are screened and given an appointment, you’ll find the entrance to the testing site on the south side of West Main Street near Homer Avenue. Follow the signs and orange cones, and you’ll arrive at the first stop sign. From there, medical workers will guide you through the screening process.

Coronavirus testing

What: Guthrie Cortland Medical Center coronavirus testing
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays
Where: Across West Main Street from the hospital at West Main and Homer Avenue.
Contact: If you think you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, call 607-299-7676 to be screened and registered.

You won’t have to get out of your vehicle, said Dr. David Ristedt, the hospital’s chief medical officer. Instead, medical workers will ask you questions. If they determine that your symptoms are severe, you’ll be sent to the emergency room. But if your symptoms are more mild, they will test you and let you go on your way.

For testing, patients tilt their head back, and a nurse sticks a swab up both nostrils. The sample is then placed in a vial and sent to a laboratory for testing. Results usually take two or three days, Ristedt said.

Three workers at the site — the ones who come in closest contact with those potentially infected — all wear bright yellow Tyvex protective suits, latex gloves, N95 respirators and face shields.

One of those workers — nurse practitioner Karen Tabel — emphasized the importance of self-quarantine for those who have been tested. That means no grocery store trips, no walks in the park — no trips outside at all. Period. Those tested must self-quarantine for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.

Tabel also said it is crucial that those who are tested answer their phones, or make sure that their voicemail is available to take messages, so test results can be communicated quickly.

“It’s important that patients have a phone number, and they answer,” she said.

Ristedt said the site will test all who qualify for testing — even if they do not have health insurance or live in Cortland County. The patient’s insurance will be billed and no co-pay will be collected. No one will be turned away due to lack of insurance.