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Your adventure begins on the phone.

Adventures in COVID-19 testing. (Really, I’m fine.)

LEARNING NEVER ENDS IN A PANDEMIC

I had a series of restless nights where I felt feverish, aches and was coughing. I would wake up tired but otherwise felt OK. I went online to read the pros and cons of taking the COVID-19 test. According to some articles, at 60+ I am considered to be in a risk group. I also might risk infection just by getting the test, sitting in a waiting room with sick people.

I went to the the department of health website — where they ask you to use a drop down menu — I clicked on: Santa Fe. So far, so good.

8 providers offering testing are listed in what we call “The City Different.”

At first glance all appear to be drive-thru testing only. This is a problem because I am car-free.

Good news! There is one “mobile service” and it comes to you. I knew it. Groceries, entire Mexican dinners and a medical test— all delivered these days. I called to discover that they only arrive if there are ten or more people to be tested.

Looking closer, I found one clinic with walk-in testing but it would only take established clients of the clinic. I was not one so out of luck.

Clearly, I needed a caring human to help me.

I called the state COVID-19 hotline. After waiting on hold for 20 minutes, a kind person took my personal information. (Where would my personal information go, dare I ask? I am thinking, “Don’t worry about it, just follow instructions and get the friggin’ test.”)

I told the nice guy on the phone, who was based in Albuquerque, I was car-free in Santa Fe. There was a distinct sound of concern as he said, “Oh, I see. One moment, please.”

He then told me to go to the Dept. of Health office near downtown Santa Fe that offered walk-in testing. Perfect. I went to their website to discover they only do drive-thru testing.

Unfortunate. But I was on a mission. In a pandemic. In the USA.

I then called the “FAST CARE” clinic. The nice person on the phone said they do offer testing if you meet the criteria. First come…first serve, no appointments are made. She said, “You come to our front door and call. We come out to give you paperwork to fill out in your car.”

I said, “I am car-free.”

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One can learn so much about the health care system in a pandemic.

“Oh,” she responded, sounding a little perplexed. “Well, just call when you get here. Once you fill out the paperwork, you wait. Outside. In our parking lot.”

“How long is the wait?”

“It could be 45 minutes, or an hour, or longer.”

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I imagined what a parking lot wait room experience would be like.

I ended the call with,“Just to clarify, if I do have the symptoms of COVID-19 and feel sick, you will make a 65-year-old person wait in your parking lot — standing or slumped against your clinic wall (since I don’t have a car) — for possibly an hour or more in the heat before being assessed by a provider?”

Yes, that is correct.”

Bottom Line: I am a very healthy, well-resourced guy. I could just have easily been a very frail car-free grandmother on a limited income or a mother of two with a broken car, recently laid off. It’s time to get our systems of care working at 100% for 100% of our residents.

*The future is what we make it. Join the evolution.

Please excuse any typos as I construct an article at 3am on only one cup of Joe. These stories are mine and mine alone. I do not represent any organization here. If one of my illustrations looks like a real human, clinic administrator or three-headed hydra, that’s total coincidence. Words and images ©Dominic Cappello but share with everyone you know. Questions? The Plan Forward awaits you here: www.tenvitalservices.org

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