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WellNow providing faster COVID-19 test results

WellNow Urgent Care on Vineyard Drive in Dunkirk.

WellNow Urgent Care, which has locations in Jamestown, Lakewood and Dunkirk, said Tuesday that patients will now receive COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test results within 24 hours.

To speed up the process, the COVID-19 tests will be processed at WellNow’s in-house lab. The company explained that this will help reduce the timeline “between when a patient is tested and when the results become available.”

Before the change, WellNow sent the tests to a laboratory in Boston.

An appointment isn’t required to be tested at a WellNow location. The urgent care centers also offer COVID-19 antibody testing at all locations.

“PCR testing is the gold standard of COVID-19 testing due to its sensitivity and accuracy,” said Dr. John Radford, president of WellNow Urgent Care. “As pandemic restrictions begin to ease and more people are traveling, returning to in-person work and school, and resuming events like weddings and live music, having access to PCR results within 24 hours is a game-changer for patients eager to return to normal activities.”

This could help address one of the concerns raised by the health department about WellNow’s practices. In April, county health officials said that the urgent care centers weren’t reporting COVID-19 test results to the department.

In New York, positive COVID-19 test results must be reported to health departments within 24 hours. According to the local health department, there have been cases involving people who tested positive at WellNow but the county wasn’t notified of the result. That’s significant because it’s the county’s responsibility to isolate positive cases and identify close contacts who need to be quarantined.

It was a longstanding problem and not limited to WellNow’s urgent care center in Auburn. That led Kathleen Cuddy, the county’s public health director, to say at a Cayuga County Board of Health meeting last month that if residents need to get tested for COVID-19, “Don’t go to WellNow.”

A WellNow spokesperson told The Citizen at the time that all results are reported to the state’s electronic clinical laboratory system and that reporting delays affected less than 1% of all COVID-19 tests.

Urgent care centers are among the many health care providers that have administered COVID-19 tests during the pandemic. WellNow announced in May 2020 that it was offering tests at its Auburn center.

WellNow has more than 90 urgent care centers in four states — Illinois, Michigan, New York and Ohio. Radford founded the company in 2011. The Auburn location opened in 2018.

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