Phoebe Prepares to Discontinue Coronavirus Testing Site As the State Takes Over COVID-19 Testing

Staff Report From Albany CEO

Thursday, April 30th, 2020

With the new state-run coronavirus testing site in Albany, Phoebe will wind down operation of its coronavirus hotline and drive-through testing site.  Phoebe became the first health system in the region to institute a coronavirus hotline on March 10 to answer questions about the virus and screen patients for potential coronavirus testing.  Phoebe began operating a drive-through testing site on March 16.  “Our hotline and drive-through testing sites have been a tremendous benefit to the people of southwest Georgia and have helped our region lead the way in COVID-19 testing in the state.  Phoebe nurses have fielded more than 15,500 calls to our hotline, and our personnel have collected around 3,000 swabs at our drive-through sites in Albany and Americus.  We appreciate the efforts of Gov. Kemp and other state leaders to open a testing site in Albany to handle this important function for our area,” said Scott Steiner, Phoebe Putney Health System Chief Executive Officer.

This week, a state-run collection site opened on Mercer Avenue behind the Albany Civic Center.  It is operated by the Georgia Department of Public Health, the Georgia National Guard and Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency in partnership with Augusta University.  “On Monday, we only served 33 patients at the Phoebe drive-through site in Albany.  Because of that declining demand and the state’s plan to take over the bulk of COVID-19 testing in the area, we will close our Albany site at the end of the day this Thursday,” said Suresh Lakhanpal, MD, Phoebe Physicians President.

The hotline will continue to accept calls through Wednesday, May 6.  Over the next week, any callers to the hotline who need to be tested in Albany will be directed to request an appointment at the state site.  Since there is not a state testing site in Americus, the Phoebe Sumter drive-through site will remain open for another week through May 6.

“We are proud to have taken the lead in providing COVID-19 information and testing in Georgia.  It has taken considerable manpower and resources to operate those services.  We’ve had as many as 21 nurses fielding hotline calls at one time, and it takes about 15 clinicians to operate the main drive-through site.  We are now able to reassign those staff members to providing care to COVID patients and to serving the needs of non-COVID patients as we carefully and safely restart services that have been curtailed during our COVID response,” Steiner said.

COVID-19 testing will still be available at Phoebe Physicians primary care clinics, as well as Phoebe urgent care clinics and the Community Care Clinic in Albany.  To schedule a testing appointment at the new state site in Albany, patients need to call 706-721-1852, visit or download the AU Health ExpressCare app.