A few days before the first COVID case was confirmed in Baton Rouge, the
Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security was already meeting with with
local healthcare providers to plan for the area’s first drive through
testing site. Only 80 miles away, New Orleans was beginning to look like
the country’s next “hot spot” for the virus and local
leaders knew early testing was the key to limiting the spread in Baton
Rouge. So, on March 16, when Governor Edwards officially closed schools
in Louisiana, MOHSEP, Baton Rouge General, Our Lady of the Lake, Ochsner,
Woman’s Hospital, Baton Rouge Clinic and Lane Regional were already
opening the community drive through testing site at Baton Rouge General’s
Mid City campus.
Drive through testing for COVID-19 started in South Korea and quickly gained
popularity as a fast and safe way to test patients for the virus while
limiting their exposure to others. Baton Rouge General’s Mid City
campus was one of the top options for the site, both because of its central
location in Mid City and because of the ample parking areas where tents
could be set up for testing.
While the first few days of the testing site saw long lines and slower
throughput, the clinical teams from each hospital became more efficient
as they gained experience. It took two hours to test 180 people on the
first day of the testing site. But by last week, the team could get through
100 people in 30-40 minutes. Other drive through locations have also popped
up around town, reducing the strain on the Mid City testing location.
As of April 15, the community testing site has tested 1,802 people for
COIVD-19. It remains open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from Noon - 2:00
p.m. To be tested, patients must have an order from a healthcare provider
faxed in the night before.