More than 740 people were tested for COVID-19 — and 87 were turned away for failing to meet criteria — on the first day of the new drive-thru site inside C.B. Smith Park in Pembroke Pines, hospital officials said.
“We tested a total of 745 people yesterday and everything went very smoothly,” said Jennifer Goldman, a family physician with Memorial Healthcare System, the public hospital for South Broward.
The testing samples collected on Friday were shipped to private labs for processing, Goldman said. Patients will be called with results about three days after they are tested.
Testing is restricted to three groups of people, Goldman said:
▪ Police officers, firefighters, EMTs and hospital workers with symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
▪ People 65 and older with a chronic medical condition and symptoms of the disease, including cough, fever and difficulty breathing.
▪ Anyone with symptoms and a history of travel on a cruise or to another country or region of the United States that “has been heavily affected.”
No doctor’s referral or prescription is required for those who meet the criteria, and testing is free.
Goldman is coordinating the drive-thru site, which is located down the street from Century Village, a retirement community of more than 10,000 people. The site is run by Memorial Healthcare, the Florida National Guard and Pembroke Pines police, in coordination with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office.
After those who arrive for testing meet the criteria, a nurse will take their name, address and telephone number, then a Florida National Guard medic will collect a sample from the back of the patient’s throat, using a swab.
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The drive-thru site will be open every day at 9 a.m., seven days a week, Goldman said.
Closing time will depend on the number of cars that can enter C.B. Smith Park in a day, she said. The park has the capacity for 250 vehicles, said Capt. Al Xiques with the Pembroke Pines police department.
Xiques declined to say at what time police closed the entrance to the park on Friday. He said those cars that don’t make it into the queue inside C.B. Smith Park will have to return on the following day.