Vernon Drive-Up Coronavirus Testing Paves Way For More In Region

Chris Dehnel

VERNON, CT — The town of Vernon, the North Central District Health Department and Priority Urgent Care in Ellington teamed up to host drive-up coronavirus testing pogram Thursday that could serve as a test case for an expansion of such services in the region.

The testing took place at the Vernon Senior Center. A total of 99 tests were administered.

Dr. Daksh Rampal, the medical director and co-founder of Priority Urgent Care., said the drive-up testing was something he has been wanting to host, but adequate personal protective equipment was not available until this week. Vernon officials were able to secure the PPEs, he said.

Michael Purcaro, Vernon's town administrator and emergency and risk management director, said the program was a natural progression to what Vernon has already done — a pair of budget-related drive-up town meetings and subsequent votes, along with a drive-up system through which thousands of free school meals have been distributed since early March.

Pre-screening was encouraged, but 35 of the 99 came without appointments and they were screened and tested, Dr. Rampal said. Results take two-to-four days to come in, Dr. Rampal said.

Purcaro said the program was and future programs will be open "to anyone, regardless of the ability to pay."

North Central District Health Department Director Patrice Sulik said that, currently, up to 4,000 people are tested weekly in the state, but a goal of ten times that would speed up the recovery period when it comes to social and economic recovery.

Programs like Thursday's in Vernon can lead to other similar ones in the region, she said. The concept of safe, protected walk-up testing sites along bus lines is being considered, she said.

The health district covers Vernon, East Windsor, Ellington, Enfield, Stafford, Suffield, Windham and Windsor Locks. It is the largest in the state, officials said.

Dr. Rampel went even further to say he hopes to expand services to include testing for those who don't have symptoms but who want to get tested because of potential exposure of piece of mind.

This article originally appeared on the Vernon Patch