Shortly before 2:00 p.m. yesterday, one of our great employees at our little country-convenience store let us know that she’d tested positive for COVID-19. She only works for us a day and a half per week, as she has another full-time position, but she’s extremely valued. She reports that she’s feeling okay, although has a bit of shortness of breath. We’re hopeful for a speedy recovery for her.
We wished that this day would never come, but knew exactly what we’d do if it did. At 2:00 p.m. we closed our store, as we’d promised our customers and staff. Our store serves our rural community needs, with gas, milk, eggs (some of which come from our own chickens), cheese, coldcuts, souse, sandwiches, and of course the requisite (and even deemed “essential” under our state lockdown) lottery and beer. Don and I immediately thought of next steps: testing for ourselves and our employees. The situation was more complicated as our store’s internet and phones were (and remain) down. The task was left to me.
I spend the next four hours online and on the phone calling, searching for a testing site. I started with my primary care physician’s office, who instructed me to call our county health department. I did so, to be told to call our regional health department’s COVID-19 hotline. I did so, and went through a series of questions with the person. Yes, I’m over 60. Yes, I (and others) had been exposed to someone who tested positive. No, I had no symptoms. Response: so sorry, you’re not eligible. You should self-isolate. But, I explained, we run a retail convenience store, an essential service in our community. Response: so sorry, you’re not eligible under CDC Guidelines. I asked: is there anyplace that might provide testing to those not meeting the guidelines? Response: well, you could try urgent care centers or your primary care physician (which, of course, was my first call). I hung up, and continued to google.
I called our local urgent care center. Nope, not eligible. I googled other urgent care centers, confirming that there were no others within 60 miles of us. A friend checked, using her contacts with a local free clinic. Nope, free clinic explained, not eligible.
I found a drug store in Richmond that recently announced a 400-tests-a-day program. I filled out a lengthy form (including much personal information), only to be told at the end I wasn’t eligible. I continued to google, returning (again) to the Virginia Department of Health COVID-19 site. Looking carefully, I finally found a list of testing sites. I filled out more forms, after which I was told nope, not eligible.
Finally, on the Department of Health’s testing site link, I found Better Med Urgent Care curbside testing locations. I’d never heard of them before, but they have a location in Fredericksburg, about 60 miles away from our home. I began filling out their form, and was pleasantly surprised by the few questions. I was invited to schedule a time – and there were a lot of time slots available today! I scheduled myself, fully expecting an email asking me to respond to more questions before confirming. I simply received a confirmation that I should show up at my requested time (11:27 a.m.).
When I finally got home last evening, about 8:00 p.m., I guided Don through the application process, and he scheduled his own appointment for 11:23 a.m. At Better Med’s request, we both provided photographed copies of our drivers’ licenses and insurance cards to them via email (I know, not the most secure communication, but we went ahead anyway).
This morning, we journeyed forth about 10:00 a.m. to Fredericksburg. As we were pulling into the parking lot, we received a call from Better Med asking some simple questions. We told them we were there, and continued to answer their short and reasonable questions (birthdate, social security number, confirmation of address, credit card number in case of charges). We then got another call for medical information (prescriptions, very brief medical history). After that call, we were instructed to drive to the front of the building. Medical personnel took our temperatures, oxygen levels, and listened to heart/lungs – all while we were seated in our car. Then came the nose swab (both nostrils, brief, not too uncomfortable). Again, while seated in our car.
We spent a total of 40 minutes at Better Med. We couldn’t be more pleased with the process, the ease of setting the appointment, the personnel. Of course we’ll be extremely pleased if we’re both negative.
*The headline is an homage to This Hour has 22 Minutes, a wonderful comedy program from the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC).