COVID-19 Test, (Almost) No Waiting

Matthew Pischel welcomes test takers.
Matthew Pischel welcomes test takers. Rocky Mountain Urgent Care
As Colorado first began coping with the coronavirus pandemic, cars jammed the state testing facility, and the Colorado National Guard came in to keep order. But over the past six weeks, the state has taken that facility on the road. And testing, which Governor Jared Polis has said is key to monitoring how the state is doing during its current safer-at-home program, has gotten far easier.

And faster.

Rocky Mountain Health Urgent Care was one of the first facilities to offer testing without appointments at its six Front Range locations, with an hour reserved for first responders from 8 to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday, and then testing hours opening up to the community from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. — no doctor's note required (and most major insurance accepted).

That came as welcome news to one Denver woman, who wanted to make sure that she, her husband and their daughter tested negative in case aging and vulnerable relatives had to come shelter at their home.

The trio had been staying at that home for five weeks, but didn't want to take any chances. "We wanted to make sure that we'd been doing things right with our quarantining," the woman says.

So last Monday, they headed to Rocky Mountain Urgent Care at 8500 West Colfax Avenue, the organization's main testing site, a former medical facility with plenty of parking. A greeter in full PPE gear met them at the door, took their medical information and sent them to a spacious waiting room with taped social-distancing guidelines. "We felt very safe," she says. "It was really nice, really professional and super-efficient."

Rocky Mountain Urgent Care
"We know people are scared and want answers," says Rocky Mountain Urgent Care spokesperson Stephanie Faber-Webb. "We have nurse practitioners and MDs here on site to provide education to our patients. Our focus is a well-rounded visit, so you leave with more answers than questions."

The trio had apparently gotten there right after the rush, and didn't have long to wait before, one after another, they were taken into a separate room for the test. First, a thick swab was inserted into the right nostril, into the nasal cavity.  "It was like, 'Whoa,'" remembers the woman.

And then, "Wow": The second swab, longer and thinner, went in the other nostril, then back and down. "It was super-intense," the woman says, still cringing, "and made my eyes water."

But any discomfort was worth it when a nurse practioner called with their test results in less than two days: All three were negative.

By Wednesday, April 29, Rocky Mountain Urgent Care had tested 842 people; 250 of them tested positive.

The Lakewood site is the main testing facility; the Westminster office is offering workers' comp testing with evaluations. And this week, Rocky Mountain Urgent Care hopes to open drive-thru testing at several of its other case you want to find out if your stay-at-home practices paid off before you start resuming normal life.

Or what passes for it these days.

Find out more about Rocky Mountain Urgent Care testing here.
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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun