For maximum safety, patients remain in their cars for the tests, which are administered by a physician, advanced practice provider or nurse outfitted in protective clothing, including a gown, goggles, mask and gloves. Each appointment takes only a few minutes.
The Food and Drug Administration-approved test being used was developed by Stanford Medicine researchers to detect the respiratory virus. It involves swabbing the inside of the nose for a sample, Artandi said. Patients with drive-through appointments also are being tested for more routine respiratory pathogens that cause influenza or related diseases.
Notified within 24 hours
Patients will be notified of their COVID-19 test results within 24 hours, Artandi said. If the result is positive, their physicians will ensure they receive appropriate care, which can range from hospitalization for people showing severe symptoms to telemedicine visits and self-quarantine for those with mild cases. “Fortunately, most of the infections are really benign,” Artandi said.
Artandi and her Stanford Medicine colleagues decided to offer the drive-through testing service as a way to accommodate more patients in a safe and efficient manner. Exam rooms must be cleaned after every in-person visit from a patient who may have COVID-19, while drive-through testing avoids such potential contamination. Studies from Stanford Medicine have found that a drive-through medical clinic model is an effective strategy for responding to a potential pandemic or emerging infectious disease event.
“It’s really a much faster and safer solution,” said Artandi, clinical associate professor of primary care and population health. “The patient is not going to expose anybody else. The clinic is not going to be exposed.”
Express Care also recently expanded from eight to more than 150 video visit appointments each day to accommodate patient demand and limit potential exposure, she said.
The drive-through testing service is being offered from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week, at Express Care’s Hoover Pavilion location in Palo Alto. Patients must present identification to confirm their appointment, Artandi said. She stressed that people without an appointment will not be tested, and that ride-hailing services, such as Uber or Lyft, should not be used.
Patients having a medical emergency should seek emergency care. Otherwise, patients can call 650-498-9000 to speak with a nurse who will assess the next step for their care.
With locations in Palo Alto and San Jose, Express Care is Stanford Health Care’s same-day primary care program, offering care for adults and children who are 6 months or older. The program employs more than three-dozen physicians and advanced practice providers, who treat most minor illnesses and injuries, including colds, respiratory illnesses, fever and headaches.