LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - UofL Health is marking one year since it stated the first COVID-19 drive-thru testing site in Kentucky.
In the past 12 months, UofL has conducted more than 80,000 COVID-19 tests at the site on 499 South Brook Street. Staff members have also administered more than 65,000 vaccines at the drive-thru site since January.
In a ceremony Friday, UofL honored staff members at the site including a team of eight who manned the site since it opened March 26, 2020.
Nurse Lauren Hicks told WAVE 3 it was the “best year and worst year.”
“I think our days started of sometimes as early as 6 o’clock in the morning, it would be raining, or cold or sleeting,” she said. “In the summer it would get so hot we would have sweat dripping off our shields… We changed our scrubs a couple times a day.
Hicks said it was an overwhelming time but the community’s gratitude kept her going.
“It was different and yeah, we were afraid, but we had to put a different face on for every patient we swabbed because we wanted to reassure them they would be okay,” she said.
As more vaccines are distributed, UofL Health has seen a decline in the demand for testing.
The drive-thru site conducted only 142 tests the week of March 15 comparted to 1,000 tests a day in January, according to a UofL Health spokesperson.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jason Smith told WAVE 3 the decline in demand for testing may signal progress.
“The decline in testing has been real, for the last, really, six to eight weeks, we’ve seen a significant reduction in the number of tests,” he said. “We have seen a reduction in the overall admission, [and] a reduction in the overall people presenting with symptoms, so I’d like to think we’re making an impact on the disease.
Smith also stressed the importance of continued testing.
“You can still get sick from the virus and you can still spread it,” he said. “We’re not quite through enough of the population with the vaccine to say we have enough of the population with the vaccine to say we’ve got it behind us yet.”
Smith explained UofL does collect samples to be tested for COVID variants. Some patient swabs are tested at random or if a patient’s travel history warrants it. The samples are sent to the CDC, state and local labs.