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COVID-19 testing outpaces workers

Over the past two days, MainStreet Family Care in Brewton has seen an influx of patients.

“Right now our clinics are normally staffed to see about 30-40 patients a day, and we are now seeing upwards of 80-100,” said Betsy Stewart, chief sales and marketing officer.

Between the large number of individuals seeking tests and a shortage of staff, the local clinic is working to meet the needs of every patient in the most efficient way possible.

“We’ve had to, as of yesterday, create a cut off system based on the staff we have. Anyone that is sick or injured or needing primary care services, we will accept them all the way up to closing time,” explained Stewart.

According to Stewart, approximately 99 percent of patients that visited the clinic within the last 48 hours were due to COVID-19 testing. “It is hard to say how many of those actually had symptoms. Some of that is from employers, if they have had a couple of people test positive in the company, or even if within a family, one person gets exposed and tests positive then 12 or 15 people have to come in that they may have been around,” said Stewart.

With the long line outside the door, many have questioned the availability of tests within the Greater Brewton Area. Stewart assured, there are plenty of tests, but not enough staff to accommodate the upwards of 80-100 patients coming to the clinic each day.

“Right now, it is not a supply shortage, it is a human capacity shortage. We can only take a few patients per hour,” said Stewart. Implementing social distancing and following all health guidelines inside the clinic, Stewart said that only 10 people are allowed in the waiting room at a time.

“We hate that people are having to wait. We’re trying to encourage people to wait in their cars. Unfortunately, we don’t have the number of staff we need outside enforcing social distancing. We definitely want people to take those precautions, but we can’t control what is happening outside,” shared Stewart.

All in all, MainStreet Family Care clinic is working to provide the services the community needs.

Stewart said, “We want to get through people in a timely process and we want to make sure it goes smoothly. We are doing all that we can.”

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, there are 3 testing sites located throughout the county—MainStreet Family Care in Brewton, Escambia County Health Department Brewton, and Escambia County Health Department Atmore. Testing at the ECHD in Atmore location takes place on Mondays from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. until 3 p.m., while testing at the ECHD Brewton location takes place on Mondays from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. MainStreet Family Care is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.; Saturday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.; Sunday from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m.

Testing is also available in various doctors’ offices throughout the county, as well as the D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital and Atmore Community Hospital.