Baton Rouge hospitals notice surge in COVID-19 testing

Local News

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD)- The Louisiana Department of Health is reporting an increase in COVID testing in the past weeks.

Due to the demand, Ochsner is reopening a drive-thru testing site on Thursday, Aug. 12.

“Today we tested around 150 people at our drive-thru location and we have seen steady volumes like this,” said Dr. Aldo Russo, Chief Medical Director at Ochsner.

Dr. Russo said there is now a need for these locations, as emergency rooms and urgent care clinics are slammed with patients asking for a COVID test.

“There are a lot of reasons why we brought the drive-thru testing back. The main reason is to try to decongest the hospital area,” he said. “People are sometimes afraid to go to the hospital and this is an easier way you stay in your car and get tested.”

Baton Rouge General at Bluebonnet is conducting about 100 tests a day.

They are considering reopening a public drive-thru site, however, the current crisis is not helping. The system does not have enough staff to open a site. 

“Our caregivers are going out with COVID. Those are the folks we would use for a big community testing site,” said Chief Medical Officer Stephen Mumford.

Getting tested at an emergency room or clinic right now could take hours, but Mumford said testing is more important than ever.

“We have more than triple the number of ICU patients, which is more resource-intensive,” said Mumford.

Both health care leaders agree that getting tested for the virus is one of the first steps in slowing the spread.

“Testing has gotten pretty good, we have been doing this for a year and a half,” said Mumford. “I think the most accurate test would be a PCR test. It is very rare you have a false-positive test.”

Ochsner is hosting free drive-thru PCR testing six days per week at the former Runnels School located at 17255 S. Harrell’s Ferry Rd, Baton Rouge, LA 70816. The site will operate Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in August. Testing will be available on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Information on testing sites in the Baton Rouge area is available here.

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