MANHATTAN BEACH (CBSLA) — A medical assistant suited up in full protective gear was ready to perform a mock test for the novel coronavirus on a volunteer at a Manhattan Beach home Friday.
The at-home testing service, started by Mend Urgent Care, is the first of its kind by a medical operator in Los Angeles County.
Executive Director William Van Noll said the service protects vulnerable populations that need testing.
"They should not be going to the hospital, they should not be going out and about if they have underlying health conditions," Van Noll said. "We want to make sure they are staying in their home."
Van Noll said Mend started in-clinic and at-home testing last week and has already identified 12 positive cases. He said his goal is to provide mass community testing.
"We can't be testing at the hospitals, we have to protect the hospitals," he said. "When we talk about community testing, that's exactly where it should be done — the community. The hospital should be for emergencies, for extremely acute cases."
Once people sign up for the service, they are screened and their risks for the illness are assessed. If necessary, a medical assistant will arrive to the patient's home and set up a virtual visit with a physician where a doctor will ask questions, perform a medical exam and then order the testing.
The medical assistant will then take a swap deep in the nostrils, sealing the collected specimen in a tube and sending it to a lab for testing. Results can take between 2-5 days.
In addition to in-clinic and at-home testing services, Mend will begin drive-thru testing services in Manhattan Beach on Sunday.
"We need to push the ball forward and get as much mass testing established throughout L.A., throughout the county and throughout California," Van Noll said.
But, Van Noll said, the drive-thru testing service will require preregistration and screening.
He said all of the tests Mend performs are covered by insurance.
"Every insurance plan is different," Van Noll said. "A lot of them are going to be covering this, a lot of them will cover many components of this so we will bill your insurance appropriately."
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