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Cape Testing Site Reduces Hours, while Vineyard Hospital Goes the Other Way and Expands Testing

Jennette Barnes

Hours at the drive-through test site for COVID-19 at Cape Cod Community College have been reduced from 48 to 30 each week.

Andrew Platt, emergency preparedness specialist for Barnstable County, said the staff have grown more comfortable with the routine, and the change does not represent a reduced need for testing.

"I think by this point, things have gotten very efficient here," Platt told WCAI. "People here know the process. We’ve been able to get it down so that we’re able to get people through a little more quickly. We’re able to really work the orders, work the schedule, into a way that allows the staff here not to be out 7 to 7."

The new hours are Monday to Friday, 10 to 4. The site previously ran six days a week, and originally seven days a week when it first opened.

Platt says that by grouping appointments in blocks and giving the staff breaks in between, they can run just as many tests as before.

The site at Cape Cod Community College previously ran longer hours each day, plus Saturdays. 

Platt said the reduced hours do not mean tests are less available or less necessary. 

He said, over time, the staff figured out they could schedule tests a little closer together.

"Initially, it was just a matter of taking it one step at a time and making sure we were doing it right," Platt said. "And then once that happened, we were able to kind of shorten that window between scheduling tests and really kind of bring it down to fewer hours."

He says the site can handle just as many tests as before and is still using only one of the two available vehicle lanes.

Martha's Vineyard Hospital expands testing

The change at the Cape Cod testing site comes even as testing on Martha's Vineyard is expanding. 

The island hospital is opening up testing to more people.

Chief Medical Officer Peter Pil said on Tuesday that a lack of tests early on meant they were limited only to residents with severe symptoms, but supplies recently have become more available.

"We continously adjust the criteria that are used for testing and it is based on identifying the highest risk first, and once testing becomes more robust we can broaden our approach," Pil said.

Pil said the hopsital is  now testing patients with respiratory issues, including a dry cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, even a loss of smell.