Ratcliff clinic to offer free COVID-19 testing

Democrat Staff
Medical staff from River Valley Primary Care conducted COVID-19 testing, Thursday, May 28, at a temporary testing site set up in the parking lot of the Dallas St. Community Bible Church in Fort Smith. River Valley Primary Care is partnering with the city and the state to test anyone from the area. Appointments are not required and you never have to get out of your car to get the COVID-19 test. Mike Blaylock, River Valley Primary Care assistant executive director, said that Labcorp is providing 2,500 tests, allowing testing to anybody who wants to be tested "whether they have symptoms or not."

Local Community Health Centers around the state are joining together to expand testing for the novel coronavirus in Arkansas, offering free testing for everyone, regardless of symptoms.

During the last two weeks, more than 7,800 tests have been performed at CHCs, including River Valley Primary Care, lcoated at 9755 West State Highway 22 in Ratcliff.

The Ratcliff center set up a mobile site in Fort Smith for four days last week but is available in Ratcliff from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. this week.

Tests are administered without appointment, without costs, and without exiting a vehicle, regardless of symptoms.

“The 12 Community Health Centers in Arkansas are uniquely positioned to help test people from all demographic populations, but especially minority groups or those in hard-to-reach rural areas,” said LaShannon Spencer, chief executive officer of the Community Health Centers of Arkansas. “Gov. Asa Hutchinson has called for testing to be greatly increased throughout Arkansas, and CHCs are proud to do our part. The only way to be sure is to get tested.”

CHCs are non-profit entities fueled by patient revenue and federal grants meant to expand health care access for low-income and rural populations. Earlier this month, the U.S. Health Resources Services Administration, distributed funds to CHCs to help deliver increased testing as part of the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act. CHCs provide many services including primary care, dental, behavioral health, and health education. Eleven of the 12 CHCs in Arkansas have multiple clinic sites. Combined, there are nearly 100 testing sites.

CHCs are working closely with the Arkansas Department of Health, local hospitals, and local county health units in this statewide test effort. Testing for COVID-19 is free, but insurance information is needed if patients have insurance. Regardless of insurance status, no out-of-pocket fees are charged.

“We’ve provided numerous mass testing events, and we will continue to offer drive-up, no-appointment testing events,” said Allan Nichols, chairman of the Community Health Centers of Arkansas Board, and Chief Executive Officer of Mainline Health Systems. “But we also set aside regular office hours for testing. Please call the CHC nearest you for the available time period most convenient for you.”

Testing is offered in tents, vehicles, or in special rooms separated from regular clinic activity to safely allow everyday patient traffic.

The complete list of all of the testing sites is available here. We also have a toll-free number to receive information on testing sites: 1-833-508-0774.

For more information on Community Health Centers, please visit: http://www.chc-ar.org/ and http://online.fliphtml5.com/xdknb/ymox/