ATTLEBORO — With the number of highly contagious and potentially deadly coronavirus cases increasing daily across the state, Sturdy Memorial Hospital has set up a drive-through testing site for the disease at its South Attleboro urgent care clinic.
The site is restricted to patients who have appointments and were referred by Sturdy Memorial doctors, Chief Operating Officer Blair Bisher said Tuesday.
The clinic itself is closed and patients who would usually go there are being referred to Study Memorial’s Urgent Care in Plainville, located at 60 Messenger St.
Bisher said the drive-through at 266 Washington St. has the capacity to test as many as 50 patients a day.
The facility did a test run Tuesday but will open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily on Wednesday.
“We wanted to iron out any wrinkles before we opened live on Broadway so to speak,” he said.
Bisher said drive-through appointments take less than 10 minutes.
Patients don’t have to get out of their vehicles, which makes the process safer for them and the health care workers administering the test.
“This provides safe, streamlined and efficient testing,” he said.
A drive-through test site reduces the risk of spreading the virus and protects the hospital, he said.
The move comes as testing statewide ramps up to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
Locally Mayor Paul Heroux declared a state of emergency on Monday which allows him to deficit spend to pay for the increased number of ambulance runs being made by the fire department.
The city has about $4.2 million in its stabilization account, which is reserved for unexpected or emergency expenditures.
The state’s Department of Public Health issued a press release announcing that as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, 13,749 state residents have been tested for the virus, more than doubling the 6,004 who had been tested as of Sunday.
Out of the 13,749 tested to date, 1,159 have tested positive and 11 have died, DPH said.
The 1,159 cases in the state is an increase of 382 over the 777 reported on Monday, according to DPH.
DPH reported 31 cases in Bristol County.
Nationwide, there have been 44,183 cases of coronavirus, which have resulted in 544 deaths, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Bisher also said the hospital will launch online doctor visits for Sturdy Memorial Associates on Wednesday.
Patients can call their doctors for an appointment just as they would for an office visit, he said.
Bisher said drive-through testing will continue as long as necessary and as long as supplies are available.
He said the hospital’s goal is to remain “malleable” so that it can adapt to rapidly changing conditions concerning the virus.
On Tuesday, the hospital began screening visitors for high temperatures, which is one of the symptoms of coronavirus. Others are a cough and shortness of breath.
Those with temperatures greater than 100 degrees were to be turned away and advised to follow up with their primary care doctors.
Residents with questions about coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, can call Sturdy’s hotline at 508-236-7676 and talk to a nurse.
The hotline is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.