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Children's National Hospital Launches Pediatric Drive-Up COVID-19 Specimen Collection Site

Children Must Be Referred by Primary Care Physician

Editor's note: This press release is from March 23, 2020. The drive-up/walk-up COVID-19 testing site is no longer in service. Please view additional information about COVID-19 testing.

WASHINGTON – Children’s National Hospital has opened a drive-up/walk-up location where primary care doctors in the Washington, D.C., region can refer young patients for COVID-19 specimen collection and testing.

Primary care doctors can refer children through young adults up to age 22 for COVID-19 specimen collection/testing. This is the first such drive-up site to open in Washington, D.C.

Planning for the program began after community pediatricians shared the challenges they experienced with safely evaluating young patients for possible COVID-19, especially in terms of maintaining appropriate personal protective equipment and preventing virus spread to more families.

“We are so grateful to everyone who has contributed time, support, space and energy to this effort,” says Kurt Newman, M.D., president and CEO of Children’s National. “The hope is that we created an additional, more convenient option for the primary care doctors in our community to safely identify the children who require quarantine and care. It also means fewer families will be forced to visit an emergency department for a COVID-19 test.”

The site location was donated by Trinity Washington University and can safely test children and young adults through age 22 who have been identified by their pediatrician or other primary care doctor with symptoms of COVID-19. The specimens are sent offsite to the program’s laboratory partner, Quest Diagnostics, for analysis. Community pediatricians are referring patients who are either at an increased risk for developing severe symptoms due to the child’s underlying medical condition or because the child has an immediate family member who is in a high-risk category.

The Children’s National team saw a limited number of patients in a pilot over the weekend. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser toured the site on Saturday. “Children’s National continues to lead in what they do best – providing paramount care to our youth and ensuring their families have access to high-quality services,” said Mayor Bowser. “This critical drive-up service will help ensure our children can get tested and support the District’s efforts to flatten the curve. We’re all in this together, and we'll get through it together.”

“Children’s National has been a wonderful educational partner for Trinity in our nursing and allied health programs, and the remarkable medical professionals at Children’s National have also provided excellent health care for Trinity students and their children over the years,” says Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University. “With a century-old mission grounded in social justice, Trinity educates a large number of students from D.C. and nearby Maryland counties, so we are pleased to be able to share a portion of our campus with Children’s National in their critical work to help and heal Washington- area children.”

The drive-up/walk-up site and other urgent needs are made possible by the generosity of philanthropists who raised more than $1 million. It was jumpstarted by Scott Nathan and Laura DeBonis and matched by the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation, the Bharti and Raj Shah Family and Abeer and Yousef Al Otaiba. We are drawing upon the collective strength of our community to meet the unprecedented needs of our patients, families and care providers. More information on how to support us can be found here.

For a child to be tested at this location, the parent or guardian must show a paper copy or electronic copy of the physician referral form completed by their primary care provider.

“While we wish we could provide testing for everyone who thinks they need it, we do not have that capacity—which is why getting a doctor’s referral is required,” says Joelle Simpson, M.D., medical director of Emergency Preparedness at Children’s National. “We encourage anyone who believes their child needs a COVID-19 test reach out to their primary care doctor first to have symptoms evaluated, even if remotely.”

Referred patients will receive the paperwork and directions to access the drive-through and walk-up site from their referring physician. When arriving at the site, photo identification and the referral form are required to enter. All results are communicated back to the family by the referring doctor when they are returned in approximately three to five days.

Families can get more information about how to get a physician referral here.

Children's National has photos and limited b-roll available for use by media to maintain patient privacy. If you are interested in setting up an interview with our expert on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, at the site, please call Jennifer Stinebiser at 703-568-8825 or email.

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