“If you have COVID-19 symptoms and are awaiting a COVID-19 test result, you must assume you have the illness. Please follow doctors’ recommendations to isolate from others as to not spread the virus,” said Texas MedClinic Chief Operating Officer and practicing physician Dr. David Gude in a released statement. “If your symptoms worsen, and you experience difficulty breathing, please seek medical attention at the hospital.”
Texas MedClinic Urgent Care and Lonestar 24 Hour Emergency Room are offering coronavirus testing at three locations in New Braunfels and do not require an order from a physician, although there are qualifications as to who can be tested.
The two Texas MedClinic offices are at 958 I-35, New Braunfels, and 1922 Hwy. 46, New Braunfels. Lonestar is at 1751 Medical Way, New Braunfels.
Texas MedClinic's Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Gude said in an email that testing is offered to symptomatic patients with a risk of complications, or those who are health care workers and first responders.
Additional testing criteria provided by a representative from MedClinic includes patients "who present flu-like symptoms; have a lower respiratory illness; and who have underlying medical conditions, such as lung or heart disease, diabetes and/or who may have been in contact with a COVID-19 laboratory-confirmed case."
Gude went on to say that it is not recommended for ill patients to be tested after a single family member has a positive test because it is the medical assumption that they also have the illness.
According to America's Health Insurance Plans, testing is covered by most insurance plans and government-sponsored plans.
In addition to the price of an office visit, the cost of a COVID-19 test is $115 for private pay patients at Texas MedClinic and is due at the time of testing. That does not include the cost of flu and strep testing that is also performed.
The bundled price for private pay patients at Lonestar is $500 and that includes the ER visit, flu and strep tests, a chest X-ray, and the COVID-19 test. There is an additional $50 charge for Lonestar's pediatric patients, whom also receive an RSV test.
At Texas MedClinic, people will be screened upon arrival and will receive a test so long as they are in supply and the patient fits the criteria. Patients will be asked to wait in their cars if rooms are not immediately available to avoid risk of viral transmission between visitors.
Lonestar 24 Hour Emergency Room has a tent set up in its ambulance area where patients are screened or triaged, and prescreening is available by phone or videochat.
Before the coronavirus test is administered, a flu test and strep culture will be performed on-site to rule out those possibilities in an effort to conserve coronavirus test kits. An order from an outside doctor does not change this procedure.
“We don’t have a set limit of capacity at this time,” Gude said. “At the moment we appear to have sufficient tests to meet the demand.”
Gude said Texas MedClinic results can take up to 48 hours but sometimes are returned from Quest Diagnostics in Dallas sooner. However, he does expect the turnaround time to slow as more tests are submitted.
A representative for Lonestar said in an email that their tests are being sent to Quest and Clinical Pathology Lab, and LabCorp will also begin processing tests for the standalone ER soon. As of March 25, it takes 7-10 days for their test results to be returned.
Texas MedClinic had completed eight tests by March 24. Five were negative, and three are still pending. Results from the clinic are reported to local and state authorities.
Appointments are not required at either clinic but are recommended, and walk-in patients will be assigned the next available time slot. Online check-in is available for both Lonestar and Texas MedClinic.
“We have been preparing as best one can for the unknown, for over 10 years, for a pandemic of this nature,” Gude said in an email. “We, therefore for the immediate and foreseeable future, have the personnel protective equipment our medical staff requires to keep both themselves and their patients safe.”
There may be other local, private clinics available for coronavirus testing, and they will be added to this story once information is available.