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New COVID-19 drive-thru testing site in Rochester to be piloted this weekend

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Olmsted County Public Health is partnering with Olmsted Medical Center and Mayo Clinic to develop a new COVID-19 specimen collection site in Rochester.

According to a news release from Olmsted County Public Health, the Graham Park Collaborative Collection Site is designed to be a large-scale drive-thru site to collect specimens for testing.

Friday afternoon, KTTC crews got a tour of the up and coming site before its pilot launch Saturday.

"It will be a small testing operation, but we are really testing to see if it can stand up to a larger testing," Olmsted County Incident Command Dan Jensen said.

Olmsted County Public Health said teams from each organization will be piloting of the drive-thru on Saturday and Sunday beginning at 10 a.m., "to assure the site can be quickly activated." The piloting process will continue "until the limited specimen collections are exhausted." Jensen expects 10 people to be seen each day.

Mayo Clinic and OMC staff will collect the specimens wearing protective gear and using appropriate precautions. The patients must first be screened over the phone by their primary care provider to determine if they meet the criteria for testing.

Olmsted County Incident Command Dan Jensen describes the drive through process to a group of reporters Friday afternoon. "We'll somehow identify them with a colored piece of paper under the wind shield," Jensen said.

If approved, patients will be directed to one of the specimen collection locations and receive further instructions on-site.

The Graham Park Collaborative Collection site stands out compared to the other two collection sites in Rochester -- which are both operated solely by Mayo Clinic -- because of its collaborative nature. The partnership is believe to be the first of its kind in the state of Minnesota.

"Most of the testing sites, actually all of the testing sites that I've looked at are very specific with a single organization, single hospital, single medical group," Jensen said. "...That partnership has allowed us to come together for what I believe is the first time in the state to come together and support the community during this type of process."

The release said testing will be done through Mayo Clinic Medical Labs.

"Its not going to increase testing supplies or resources or things like that," Jensen said. "But making sure everyone have access to these kinds of testing regardless of their provider is really important moving forward."

Health officials say that its a critical collaboration during this time.

"Through supporting one another is how we will come through this as a community," Jensen said. "That's really a critical aspect of whats happening here. I think that this is maybe a small example of what we could start to see, evolve, in other parts of the community. I've talked to faith based organizations, non profits, for profits, restaurants. People are really pulling together through out this whole event together. That's the great part of Rochester that's the great part of the community here in South East Minnesota."


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