After a new Optum COVID-19 testing site opened up at the South Bend Armory, local participation has failed to reach the levels expected. The testing site opened in a strategic location, but many have reported on the cumbersome registration process and the lack of proper medical follow-up after a test. On Thursday, State Senator David Niezgodski (D-South Bend) sent a letter to the governor asking for partnership to help make the testing process easier for residents to utilize.
The full text of the letter is below:
Dear Governor Holcomb,
I write to you in regard to the Optum COVID-19 testing site that recently opened in South Bend. First, I would like to thank the Indiana State Department of Health for the placement of the testing site. The South Bend Armory is a central location in St. Joseph County and close to one of the hardest hit locales in the area. My hope was that we would be able to see high rates of residents being tested at this location.
Unfortunately, our county is not seeing the levels of testing participation that many expected. Our county health department is concerned with the site’s cumbersome nature. Since the testing site is not a drive-through location and requires a lengthy, online registration, many residents may be finding these aspects to be significant barriers and reasons to not get tested. In addition, once a test is completed, there are no recommendations for follow-up care at any local health facilities. This leaves many residents without guidance and unable to make well-informed medical decisions.
Seeing these possible barriers to high testing participation, I want to work with you to streamline our testing as much as possible. Only when we are confident that St. Joseph County residents are being tested in large numbers will our businesses and communities be confident in a safe reopening. With this in mind, I have the following questions for you with regard to the Optum testing:
- Can this testing site be transitioned to a more effective format, such as drive-through testing?
- Will the local health department be able to have input in this testing site? The health department already has the connections with local health facilities and can facilitate health recommendations at the conclusion of tests.
- What communication plan is ISDH supporting to make sure local residents know about the testing site and the process to get a testing appointment
Thank you for considering these issues. I look forward to your response and to partnering with you to support my district’s residents.