Betty Jean Kerr People’s Health Centers is offering two services for elderly populations as they try to stay safe from the new coronavirus – free COVID-19 testing and a free behavioral health hotline.
People’s has a mobile team that takes free COVID-19 testing to retirement and vulnerable communities. Additionally, it is offering a free a mental health hotline (866-376-0962) for older citizens who may be experiencing stress, depression, anxiety, insomnia, isolation and loneliness from sheltering in place due to the pandemic.
The CMC Retirement Village at 3330 N. Kingshighway in St. Louis was the first stop for the mobile testing unit on June 1, where residents and staff members were tested for COVID-19. “We were able to safely and successfully test more than 40 staff and residents within two hours,” said Dwayne Butler, People’s CEO.
After people get tested, the health care team gives them discharge instructions on how to stay safe and to quarantine until they get their results, which takes three to five days. In the case of a positive result, federal and state health guidelines are followed.
“We report it to the patient, and we report it to the respective health department and then they take over from there,” said Dr. Tifani Sanford, clinical project manager at People’s Health Centers.
Butler said partner support is making it possible to take testing to some of those most vulnerable to the coronavirus. Late last month, Home State Health partnered with Quest Diagnostics to distribute up to 1,000 test kits each week to federally qualified health centers in St. Louis. Both Affinia Healthcare and People’s Health Centers in St. Louis will receive up to 1,000 tests.
“Testing is critical to flattening the curve in Missouri,” said Nathan Landsbaum, president and CEO of Home State Health. “Flattening the curve” means fewer new cases and death from COVID-19 as illustrated on a timeline graph. Home State Health will also provide oversight and training to ensure test kits are received and processed efficiently.
“We are integrating the Quest test kits into our program, and that partnership and access to their test kits and Centene/Home State's PPE donations will provide significant support to our program,” Butler said.
People’s is working with its partners to identify retirement, independent, assisted living communities and other locations where people are congregated to make COVID-19 testing available throughout the summer.
“We do not go inside the facility,” Sanford said. “Therefore, the patients have to be able to come outside. And we usually set up right outside of the door so that it is easy for them to get under the tent and get tested. But they do have to come out – for the safety of the staff.”
In addition to CMC, People’s has conducted COVID-19 testing at Almost Home (for pregnant and parenting teens), Pillars of North County, William Clay Leisure Living Center and Casa de Salud, with plans to visit Pillars of North County, 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis and the People’s North County drive-through location.
“We are currently taking people who are asymptomatic and right now, we are testing people 16 years and up,” Sanford said. “We are also going to places that aren’t retirement facilities. Anyone can call who has congregant living, where there’s a bunch of people living in one closed space.”
Retirement centers and other locations that want to participate may call People’s to schedule free onsite COVID-19 testing for its residents and staff. The number to call is 314-627-5405. For free behavioral health support for elderly residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, call 1-866-376-0962.