KCK health clinic expanding free coronavirus testing for certain patients

Tracking Coronavirus

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — About 100 people are expected to get drive-thru testing for the coronavirus Thursday, March 26 at Sharon Lee Family Health Clinic.

Dr. Sharon Lee runs the community clinic, which is known for providing free health care. She was one of the few physicians willing to treat AIDS patients here a quarter of a century ago.

Once again, Lee finds herself on the front lines in a new battle to stop the coronavirus.

However, she is maintaining her reputation; no one who comes to her for the test is billed. She said she is able to keep cost to her practice low a couple different ways.

“We are able to get tests through the private labs at a reduced cost, Lee said.

Private labs are making a lot more tests available to help track the spread of the coronavirus. Lee credits big labs like Quest and Labcorp for greatly expanding their testing capabilities, while offering federally qualified community health centers like hers a reduced cost.

“There are a couple of labs in the area that are really scalping people and charging $275 and $250 for each test,” Dr. Lee said. “But thankfully the others are down to about $60 a test. That’s where we are at now.

Strapped for cash, her staff has volunteered to work without pay.

Dr. Lee says while she still doesn’t have results back from tests administered last week, the private sector is moving quickly to catch up with the backlog.

Expanded testing is critical, Lee said, because shutting down the spread of the virus won’t happen with social distancing alone. Testing is how the South Korea and China have been able to isolate areas of infection.

Lee said testing will help prevent the metro area from becoming like New York City, where two patients have to share one ventilator.

Testing takes place between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the clinic. Patients need a prescription or doctor’s order.

The center will try to bill insurance companies for those who have coverage, but patients will not be asked to pay anything.

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