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COVID-19 Testing Goes Mobile, Expanding Reach Into Communities

April 29, 2020

Understanding that services can only help those able to access them, Hartford HealthCare (HHC) launched a mobile unit this week to help people without transportation to sites for COVID-19 testing. The unit made its first stop at the Open Hearth, shown above, an organization in downtown Hartford dedicated to helping men experiencing homelessness. More than 100 people staying and working there were tested in one day. “We’ve been working very hard at expanding our testing capabilities and creating our mobile capacity that we will be rolling out now every day so that we can increase access, bring our care, bring our services, bring our testing to people who need it most, most conveniently and where it will make the greatest difference,” said Jeff Flaks, HHC president and CEO. The mobile unit will hit “places we think are most critically essential” in the community,” he said. Expanding COVID-19 testing through this venture and the opening of fixed testing sites in Newington, Westport and Mystic is essential to reopening society safely, Flaks said. The new locations will help the system increase testing to about 2,500 a day. (For more details, click here.) HHC’s moves, according to Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, help remove barriers to healthcare. “We’re doing everything we can try to minimize disparities, prepare in advance and mitigate it here in City of Hartford,” he said of the virus. Bringing care directly into the community is part of the model of healthcare HHC wants to embrace as its new normal once the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, added Sarah Lewis, the system’s vice president of health equity. “We don’t want to return to normal in some cases,” she said, noting that there’s a 15-year difference in life expectancy from the North End of Hartford to the South End. “That means rethinking, redesigning, recalibrating the way we think about healthcare delivery. “We want to keep stepping up, keep showing up, tell everyone that we see them and we’re here to protect, prevent and work with you going forward to survive this health crisis.” Besides the mobile unit bringing testing into underserved areas of the city, HHC tested every resident and staff person at Jefferson House, its skilled nursing facility. “We are working with Federally Qualified Health Centers to increase testing orders for underserved people,” Flaks said. Not feeling well? Call your healthcare provider for guidance and try to avoid going directly to an emergency department or urgent care center, as this could increase the chances of the disease spreading. Need to see your doctor? New Patient? For more information about Hartford HealthCare virtual health visits, click here. Click here to schedule a virtual visit with a Hartford HealthCare-GoHealth Urgent care doctor. Stay with Hartford HealthCare for everything you need to know about the coronavirus threat. Click here for information updated daily. Questions? Call our 24-hour hotline (860.972.8100 or, toll-free, 833.621.0600).  Get text alerts by texting 31996 with COVID19 in the message field.