Cars park outside Piedmont Urgent Care at Oconee Health Campus in Watkinsville, Georgia on Friday, March 20, 2020. The clinic offered testing for COVID-19 for patients with an appointment. (Photo/Taylor Gerlach)

Piedmont Athens Regional has set up drive-thru COVID-19 testing at the Oconee Health Campus for patients by appointment only.

Patients must complete pre-screening by calling 1-866-460-1119. If they meet the criteria for testing, they will be directed to one of Piedmont Regional’s four testing sites, according to an email from Piedmont Athens Regional to The Red & Black.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends health care providers to use their judgement when evaluating potential patients for COVID-19 testing criteria. The symptoms must be compatible with COVID-19, which include a fever and acute respiratory illness. High-risk individuals — older adults and those with underlying health conditions — or people who have had contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient have higher priority for testing.

These testing sites are for patients who have moderate symptoms and don’t require hospitalization. Patients can either drive themselves or have a driver, but the hospital requests that the driver does not show COVID-19 symptoms.

The sites opened Wednesday, March 18 and will operate 9 a.m.-3 p.m. by appointment.

Medical professionals qualified to administer tests will wear personal protective equipment and run the sites. Law enforcement will be on site to direct traffic.

“Piedmont will consider expansion to additional sites over time based on community need,” the email said.

Piedmont started the drive-thru testing sites because it limits patient exposure to the community while still allowing for a safe method to confirm cases of COVID-19.

“We also help conserve hospital and emergency department resources, as well as providers, for the COVID-19 patients and other acute care patients who require a deeper level of care,” the email said.

Test samples will be sent to one of the two laboratories with which Piedmont works, and then results will be relayed to the patient by their electronic medical record.