Children's National Hospital is launching a drive-up COVID-19 test site just for pediatric patients. It's designed for children who are showing coronavirus symptoms but are not ill enough to warrant admission to the hospital.
The site is located in the parking lot of Trinity Washington University in Northeast D.C. and went from idea to reality in just under a week.
"As far as we know it's the first one that's out there, and we're really excited to provide this for our kids, for our community," Dr. Kurt Newman, president and CEO of Children’s National Hospital, said in a statement.
Parents can drive up with their kids in the car and medical professionals will swab them and send the swabs to a private lab. The testing site will be able to test between 80 and 100 kids a day. The results should be back in three to five days.
"Mainly because the pediatricians in the community said 'You know what, we don't want to be sending kids down to the hospital if they don't really need to go there — but we need to get them tested,'" Newman said about the reason for the site.
Children and young adults through age 22 are eligible for the testing site but must have symptoms and a doctor's referral to be tested. The results will be sent directly to the pediatrician who ordered the test.
The donor-funded test site can safely identify children who have COVID-19 and should be quarantined — while keeping them out of the emergency room. The test site is administered by medical professionals who have experience dealing with children.
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"We want to do something a little separate, a little different, that's kid-friendly so that when we're taking these samples it's all about the children — and it's just a very different vibe to it," Newman said.
He said with the disease being so new, there's a real need for information and data, especially as it relates to children with underlying medical conditions.
"We haven't done enough testing, we don't have enough data to really know. So we don't want to wait to find out. We want to get these tests done and find out if kids are being affected," Newman said.
He said Children's National doesn't yet know how large the demand for pediatric testing will be for the new site. At some point, they may face the same test kit shortage that exists across the country. The hospital has a separate testing system to test children who are already patients within the hospital.
What to Know
- The global coronavirus pandemic has prompted leaders in D.C., Maryland and Virignia to temporarily close schools and some businesses
- Coronavirus causes symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath
- Most people have mild symtoms and can recover in about two weeks, while more serious cases can require hospital care