New COVID-19 sampling center opens in Ithaca

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Cayuga Health (CH) and Tompkins County officials announced March 23 that they are opening a new COVID-19 sampling center location for patients who meet screening criteria for testing to handle more widespread screening.

According to a recent press release, the sampling center opened March 24 and will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Online registration is available at www.cayugahealth.org for patients to review the screening criteria and pre-register before their arrival. Cayuga Health said this allows greater efficiencies with patient volume and decreased wait times.

A call center has also been set up for patients who may not have access to internet, need assistance registering or have questions. The call center number is 607-319-5708. Individuals are strongly encouraged to pre-register prior to coming to the site.

“Testing for COVID-19 has rapidly evolved,” said Martin Stallone, president and CEO of Cayuga Health. “Last week, we were successful with opening one of the first COVID-19 sampling centers in New York state, and we will continue to do what it takes to meet the healthcare needs of our community.”

Stallone thanked The Shops at Ithaca Mall and Tompkins County officials for their efforts and support in making the sampling center come together.

“I would also like to thank the entire Cayuga Health staff for their tireless dedication and hard work over the past several weeks,” he said.

Tompkins County Public Health Director Frank Kruppa said the sampling center is a sign of progress in the fight against the coronavirus.

“This new sampling center is another way for us to do our part to flatten the curve, get people tested and keep our community safe,” Krupp said. “We recognize there are limitations to this sampling site and we will continue to work to find solutions to ensure that everyone who needs to get tested is able to receive this service. I would like to thank Dr. Stallone and his entire team for leading this effort for the sampling center.”

The criteria for testing includes two questions, according to the release:

1) Have you had a recent onset of fever, cough, shortness of breath, or body aches?

2) Have you been in the same room with a person confirmed positive with COVID-19 in the last 14 days?

“For those tested, they must go straight home, as they will be on mandatory home isolation as directed by the Health Department,” according to the release. “Individuals will be contacted in about one week with the test result. Someone will contact individuals daily on behalf of the Health Department to ensure that there is compliance with mandatory home isolation.”

The Sampling Center is located in portable structures at The Shops at Ithaca Mall parking lot and is staffed by Cayuga Health employees. Screening includes swabbing the throat and nose and will be sent to offsite designated testing centers for results. The new sampling center replaces the previous sampling facility, which opened on March 16.

Patients entering the screening location by car can tune into FM 96.3 to receive instructions about driving through the Sampling Center. In addition, signs will convey important information to assist with traffic control.
Cayuga Health urges residents not to take public transportation to the sampling center. Cayuga Health and Tompkins County officials are working closely to determine if mobile sampling is available or other transportation options.

The sampling center opened Tuesday, March 24, and will be open into the foreseeable future as needed. Hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. The website can be found at www.cayugahealth.org. As directed by Governor Cuomo, COVID-19 testing is free for all New Yorkers, regardless of health insurance.

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