August 3rd, 2020
by Diana Natti Theriault
On Wednesday, July 29th, I visited the COVID-19 Pop Up Testing site at Hamden High School, hosted by Cornell Scott Hill Health Center, with support from QVHD and the Town of Hamden.
A line of people had begun to form while employees of Cornell Scott began setting up tents, computers, and equipment.
Carlah Esdaile-Bragg, the Director of Marketing & Community Relations, working alongside Adam Sendroff the Community Development Manager for the Town of Hamden, oversaw the process. (Pictured Left)
The Cornell Scott Hill Health Center was founded in1968, and was the first community healthcare center in Connecticut. Cornell Scott is a federally qualified health center that serves around 35,000 patients in the Greater New Haven and Lower Naugatuck Valley areas each year.
Over the past few months they have hosted numerous Pop-Up COVID-19 Testing events throughout our area, and have tested close to 1500 patients at these events alone. At a previous event on July 9th, the first held at the High School, over 100 people lined up to get tested.
Leah Lucarelli, the Senior Practice Administrator from Cornell Scott, said that even with all of those tests, there have been a low number of positive results. “That is great news” she says “as it reinforces the idea that the precautions people in our area are taking (hand washing, wearing masks, social distancing) are working to slow the spread of the virus.”
She hopes that their testing numbers remain high, and Cornell Scott encourages people to get tested regardless of symptoms. Currently they are getting a shipment of 1000 swabs each week so at this time there is no fear that they will run out of tests.
All that you need to get tested is a form of identification.
Leah explained that Cornell Scott is in no way connected to the federal government, so those who fear getting tested due to undocumented status can be assured that none of their information will be shared with ICE.
Cornell Scott’s COVID-19 testing is paid for by COVID specific grants, which are helping to support their testing events, and because of that they do not have to ask patients to pay out of pocket.
Knowing how important testing is, and hoping to get a good idea of the process, I chose to get tested. Here is a look at what you can expect if you decide to get tested.
My first step was to be checked in. Angel (pictured above right) took my ID, and checked the system for my information. Cornell Scott is part of EPIC, so if you have been seen in the Yale system, they will already have your information. Since I am a patient at Yale, I only needed to verify my address and phone. If you are not in the system, they will enter your information.
After a short wait, I was directed behind a curtained area, where Stacy (pictured above middle, prior to the start of testing) and her team were ready. They were all wearing full PPE, and so it looked a little bit like a scene from Outbreak. Because of this, you may feel a bit nervous, but don’t forget to listen to Stacy BEFORE removing your mask! She will introduce herself, explain what she is about to do, and then ask you to pull your mask down below only your nose (keeping your mouth covered).
The test they use is the mid turbinate version, which means that they only have to shove the q-tip looking swab most of the way up your nose, unlike the initial testing (deep nasal pharynx test) which was further in the sinuses. She wriggled it around for exactly 15 second per side. She encouraged me to keep breathing while she did this, in a kind and relaxing way. It did not hurt at all, just felt a bit uncomfortable, as you may imagine.
And that was it! Easy.
They told me my results would be ready in about 24 hours, but that I may not get a call for 2-4 days as the provider would need to review the results before Cornell Scott reaches out. They will call if the test is negative or positive, and answer any questions you may have.
Also getting tested that day was a member of our town Legislative Council, Councilor-at-Large Jody Clouse. She told me that “though cases are decreasing in Connecticut, it’s important to stay vigilant, so that our numbers don’t begin to rise again. The earlier you catch it, the easier contact tracing will be.” She went on to encourage all to “get tested and continue keeping yourselves as safe as possible”.
The free COVID-19 testing is not the only way that Cornell Scott is helping in our Hamden community. They also have opened three School Based Health Centers in our public schools. Students in the High School, the Middle School, and at Church Street Elementary have access to both behavioral health and medical services in their clinics located with the schools.
The centers, which are not a replacement of your child’s regular pediatrician, act as a sort of “Urgent Care” for students to utilize during the school day. The Nurse Practitioners from Cornell Scott work with the school to build relationships with students and families, and offer free services for minor injuries and illnesses, school and sports physicals, counseling, crisis intervention and so much more. If you have a student attending the High School, Middle School, or Church Street, you will receive an enrollment form this fall. All families are encouraged to enroll in the program.
Leah, in her additional role as Director of School Based Health Centers, is also working with the school district to help shape plans for COVID-19 related issues as the school year begins. The School Based Health Centers are adding Telehealth, so that even if a student is not in the school on the day of their appointment, they will still be able to connect to the care that they need, for both medical and behavioral health.
Cornell Scott will most likely not be doing COVID-19 testing in the School Based Health Center however, because the requirements for COVID testing; the need for proper ventilation and a sterile environment, would prove too much of a barrier inside the schools.
Thank you to Cornell Scott for being an important part of our Hamden community. They encourage you to take part in the COVID testing, and if you have a student in the school system, to enroll in their School Based Health Center.
There will almost certainly be more Pop-Up Testing events planned in Hamden, but if you would like a test, you can also visit the Cornell Scott Hill Health Center for testing.
(203) 503-3000 - To Make an Appointment
COVID-19 Testing Locations (Walk-Up Testing Available)
226 Dixwell Ave, New Haven
Monday - Friday 8:30am - 4:30pm
428 Columbus Ave, New Haven
Monday - Friday 10am - 2pm