homepage logo

UPMC Opens COVID-19 Specimen Collection Site

By Staff | Mar 25, 2020

WILLIAMPSORT-This week, UPMC in the Susquehanna region began directing patients who received physician consultation and referral for symptoms consistent with COVID-19 to an outpatient specimen collection site at 609 Brandon Ave., Williamsport.

“The COVID-19 Collection Site in Williamsport is located in a structure specially designed to produce the ideal conditions necessary to perform tests safely and efficiently,” said James Slotterback, manager, Emergency Preparedness, UPMC in the Susquehanna region. “The structure was built in 2009 with grant funding to meet the hospital’s disaster response needs in situations such as this.”

The site is not open to the public, and walk-in patients will not be tested. If testing is sought, the patient must be evaluated by their care provider, who then must assess the need and contact the local UPMC infection prevention team. That team will review the key information and if testing is deemed needed, an appointment will be scheduled to have their specimen collected. Patients should self-isolate until that appointment.

Trained UPMC staff will collect specimens safely in personal protective equipment that includes gowns, gloves and N95 masks or respirators. Collection occurs in negative pressure rooms, which ensures that air does not leave the room until it flows through a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter that removes pathogens. The process involves a “nasopharyngeal” swab, a thin device inserted through a patient’s nose into the nasal cavity.

The specimens will be safely transported to one of three places for testing: the UPMC Clinical Laboratory in Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania’s Department of Health laboratory in Exeter, PA, or a commercial laboratory.

Depending on the laboratory conducting the test, results could be returned in less than 24 hours or within one week and will be communicated to the patient’s referring physician.

Anyone whose sample is taken should self-isolate until results come back. If a COVID 19 test returns positive, UPMC will refer the patient to public health authorities and ensure ongoing care. All positive results from UPMC’s testing will be “presumed” positive until confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or state public health laboratories.

People who suspect they have COVID-19 but do not have a high fever or breathing problems should call their primary care physician or use their provider’s virtual visit options to get advice. Anyone with a high fever or more prominent breathing trouble should go to their local emergency department for evaluation and care.

UPMC may open additional specimen collection facilities depending on need.

For current information about COVID-19 and what UPMC is doing to prepare, visit UPMC.com/COVID19.