ST. LOUIS — With thousands of people now testing positive each day for COVID-19, there's a huge demand for tests.
But the region's hospital systems have a plea to the community: do not come to the emergency room for a test.
Hospitals are inundated with patients mixed with staffing shortages.
24/7 Healthcare in downtown St. Louis and in Creve Coeur is relieving some of that pressure.
It's opening up swab centers for insured patients who don't have symptoms.
Founder Dr. Sonny Saggar said with new testing supplies recently shipped, they can offer this new option.
- The downtown site at 1714 Olive Street opened Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022
- For the Creve Coeur location, the plan is to open at 13035 Olive Blvd, 63141 (Suite 111) on Jan. 17, 2022.
- Both sites will only be open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., unless they run out of tests or have insufficient staff - it will be announced daily on the website by 8 a.m. whether the swab centers are open or closed
- If you're paying for your swab, use the regular urgent care centers and not the swab centers
- It's walk-in only
- They are doing saliva collection for PCR: Spit in a tube/swab inside the cheek/swab the throat/traditional nasal swabs
- You can preregister online for just a swab, just to get your information to staff, but it does not create an appointment or put you on any kind of waitlist or queue
- As far as their urgent care, it's open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year
- If you have a question about anything related to COVID, please email them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you would like a telemedicine visit with one of their doctors, they are available 24/7
Dr. Saggar admits this is also helping patients who aren't facing COVID-19.
"This will take the edge off the urgent care. We just need to get people out of the waiting room who have no symptoms," he added.
The influx in his urgent care has been overwhelming. He explained, it's gone from 35 to 40 patients for COVID-19 testing to nearly 200 at its peak last week.
This could be an alternative for those trying to find a test, especially during a time when the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force is asking for people to refrain from coming to the ER for testing.
That's because the staff is trying to treat the sickest patients first.
The emergency department at Barnes-Jewish has about 250 to 300 patients arriving every day.
"We have 70 to 80 beds and we can have 110-120 in the ER department most days. So that means, there are 40 to 50 patients in the waiting room and all the beds are full," Dr. Robert Poirier, the Clinical Chief of Emergency Medicine at BJC.