COVID-19 screenings are now available at SEARHC’s drive-up clinic on Moller Avenue near the Public Health office. Screening is available to those experiencing 1) fever and cough, or 2) shortness of breath. Anyone considering getting tested should call SEARHC’s COVID-19 response hotline first at 1-907-966-8799. (KCAW photo/Berett Wilber)

The Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium has opened drive-thru screening locations for the COVID-19 coronavirus in five communities throughout the region.

Even though the sites are drive-thru, appointments may still be necessary. SEARHC advises patients interested in the service in Juneau, Sitka, Wrangell, Klawock, and Haines to call their local clinics for more information. Clinics will then provide patients with a referral to the drive-by testing location during regular business hours.

Clinicians at the sites will be wearing full personal protection equipment, including mask, goggles, gloves, and gown. Patients who meet Centers for Disease Control clinical criteria will first be tested for influenza. If the test comes back negative, a test for COVID-19 will be administered.

Appointments may be required, even for the drive-thru screening locations. For information on screening in your community please call:

  • Juneau – 907-463-4040
  • Sitka – 907-966-8799
  • Wrangell – 907-874-4700
  • Klawock – 907-755-4800
  • Haines – 907-766-6300

In a news release, SEARHC chief medical officer Elliot Bruhl said the drive-by sites were developed to prepare for the “inevitable spike” in testing as the virus progresses, especially as more test quantities become available.

A SEARHC clinician shows the basic screening equipment for COVID-19: a long nose swab. (KCAW photo/Berett Wilber)

Also on Thursday, SEARHC announced that it was suspending most of its non-emergency services, in order to prepare for the increased patient volume that could come with a potential outbreak in the region. Dental care, optometry, patient travel, and elective surgery have all been scaled back to allow staff to focus on core healthcare services.

Primary and acute care, radiology, laboratory, and therapy services will remain available, along with the emergency room.

The state, meanwhile, has mandated that all hospitals and surgical centers are required to postpone or cancel all non-urgent or elective procedures for three months.