coronavirus

Meharry Medical College COVID-19 assessment site helps underserved community

Coronavirus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Roughly one hundred people used Nashville’s COVID-19 assessment site every day at Meharry Medical College.

It’s one of three set up by the Metro Nashville COVI-19 task force last week.

More: COVID-19 assessment centers open across Nashville

Dr. Julie Gray is a dentist by trade but was tasked with leading the effort to get people tested at Meharry.

“Personally it has been a rewarding experience,” Dr. Gray said. “The mission of Meharry Medical College is to serve the underserved and anyone who knows me personally knows that I have that in my heart and it is what I signed up for when I interviewed at Meharry many many years ago and I’ve certainly enjoyed every moment of this partnership that we’ve had with the city and this service.”

She said the site was set up in a matter of weeks thanks to generous donations and dedicated volunteers. They include doctors, nurses, PA’s, and medical/dental students.

“I can’t say enough about our volunteers. They have been phenomenal through this process,” Dr. Gray said. “Personally, sometimes my children – when I get home at night – they’re more concerned than I am but this is what we signed up for as healthcare professionals so this is our time to serve people who are afraid, who need answers, and to just be there to answer questions and educate the public.”

She said up to 30 volunteers work on the site each day starting at 7:00 a.m. setting up six tents and three checkpoints.

“They start at checkpoint one and we ask questions about whether or not they would go through the assessment and if they don’t, we give them a mask of course. We started that yesterday [Friday] and we give them discharge instructions so they can go back to work,” said Dr. Gray. The initial assessment determines if they go on to the other checkpoints.

She added that it’s evident that many employers have a heightened concern about the virus.

“Some patients have said that they can’t return back to work. We’ve had patients come in that have just coughed and said they have been requested to come to the site to be assessed,” Dr. Gray said. “Many of them don’t – in our assessment – fit any of the criteria. They don’t have a cough, they don’t have shortness of breath, they don’t have fever.”

Metro officials said they were strategic in selecting the location of the testing sites.

“I think the most challenging part is when we have patients that come on foot and how we meet the needs of that underserved community,” said Dr. Gray, adding that many people do not have access to healthcare in that area.

Click here for more information about getting tested at one of Nashville’s testing sites.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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