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Main-Street to offer faster COVID-19 antibody testing

By: Donnamy Steele

As of last week, MainStreet Urgent Care is offering a faster alternative to COVID-19 testing. The new rapid antigen test gives same-day results and people have been lining up outside of the clinic for hours to be tested according to Chief Marketing Officer Betsy Stewart.

Stewart explained that the clinic has been busy since launching the rapid test last week.

“Last Wednesday we kind of did a soft launch of a rapid test,” Stewart said. “We didn’t have to advertise, it just blew up.”

The rapid test is different from other COVID-19 tests, said Stewart.

“The test we do is a rapid antigen test. It tests for the specific proteins of the virus,” Stewart said. “The other test is to detect the DNA of the virus. The rapid test is very accurate. It has 94 percent specificity, which means a small percentage of false negatives. When there is a false negative, it’s usually because people get tested too early. I’d say to wait at least 24-48 hours for the proteins to develop and show for them to be detected with the rapid test.”

The clinic’s daily numbers have skyrocketed from 40-50 patients per day to 80-100 since May according to Stewart.

“As far as I know, we are the only ones testing with the rapid test,” Stewart said. “We are seeing 80-100 people a day, even with us having to turn people away. There are 1500 tests a day statewide and we do about 500 tests weekly for on-site employees.”

Stewart said that it is easier for people to just walk into the clinic than to schedule appointments for testing at this time, but they are working on alternative methods for registration.

“The average waiting time is 4-5 hours. Unfortunately, we don’t have a steady system because we haven’t marketed the rapid test yet,” Stewart said. “We are working on online registration for patients to fill out paperwork, to sign in and not have as many people in the clinic at one time. We hope to get a rough version of our online registration and give regular customers priority appointments. We are happy to offer testing, but we also want to help with our core practice. We have employees who are dedicated to testing to help with this.”

MainStreet Urgent Care is hiring in an attempt to speed up the waiting process.

“We have three or four of us just testing,” Stewart said. “We are looking to hire for all positions. We need receptionists, people to help with swabbing and testing, and for paperwork.”

Due to the influx of patients coming into the clinic, the cut off time for testing is 4 pm. “We will accept people up until 4 pm for testing. We do this to make sure that our patients who need regular urgent care can be seen,” Stewart said. “They can come in until closing time, but we have to close up earlier for the rest.”

Stewart explained that some patients have given the clinic negative reviews due to the waiting time and for not being seen.

“A lot of people will line up outside and they won’t come check-in,” Stewart said. “Check-in first, don’t just get in line and wait. Some have waited six or seven hours because they didn’t let us know they were here. We’ve had a few negative reviews, but we’re trying. We’ve been working hard and giving it our all. It’s a whole new world on the frontlines. We appreciate the patience of our patients. We are working to expand our staff and resources to make this a smooth process.”