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COVID-19 testing for vulnerable populations

August 14, 2020 | Community

CVS Testing Center associate with swabs

Over the past several months as COVID-19 has hit communities across the country, many people have been asked to stay at home. But for certain populations, like those who many not be able to afford to stay home from work, essential workers, and people without a permanent home address, quarantining is an even more difficult task.

In some cases, taking public transportation to work or family housing dynamics in homes or apartments may make it more difficult to socially distance or quarantine, which could lead to an increase in possible exposure to COVID-19. There are varying types of barriers that individuals in underserved communities may face that make it difficult to follow all of the public health guidelines recommended to combat the pandemic. At the same time, lack of access to testing for COVID-19 for some populations can make the pandemic an even greater challenge.

As part of CVS Health’s expansion of COVID-19 testing, we have partnered with community-based organizations to provide testing solutions to at-risk and underserved populations. This includes working with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) in Phoenix, Arizona, an organization dedicated to feeding, clothing, housing and healing low-income families.

Beginning in May, CVS Health partnered with St. Vincent de Paul to provide COVID-19 testing at the nonprofit’s Virginia G. Piper Medical & Dental Clinic for the uninsured. Because of the population the clinic serves, the CVS Health and SVdP teams worked together to quickly adjust many standard practices – such as waiving the need for a home address and working with the state of Arizona to ensure people who test positive are given resources and next steps on safely quarantining. Signage and discharge papers are provided in Spanish and English, and most of the on-site CVS Health staff is bilingual, to ensure that patients feel comfortable talking about their health care needs and next steps in their preferred language.

“We’ve seen an amazing response from our community-based testing site in Phoenix,” said Dr. Garth Graham, Vice President of Community Health and Chief Community Health Officer, CVS Health. “We’ve been able to rely on St. Vincent de Paul’s strong presence in the local community and build on CVS Health’s commitment to supporting underserved populations.”

Regular patients of the St. Vincent de Paul clinic who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 are referred to the testing center within the clinic. Patients receive their results within 15 minutes which allows the on-site team to act quickly on next steps and provide them with the added resources they need to safely quarantine and get on their path to recovery.

"We're extremely grateful to CVS Health for helping bring COVID-19 testing to the uninsured patients we serve at St. Vincent de Paul," said Dr. Maurice Lee, SVdP's chief medical officer. "Not only are we increasing access for people who might otherwise go without medical diagnosis, but we're also gaining a better understanding of the spread happening within vulnerable populations and in our community as a whole."

Find no cost COVID-19 testing in your community.