Drive-thrus are not just for ordering a quick lunch anymore. This easy in-car experience has expanded to COVID-19 tests and flu vaccines, and even some blood tests. These convenient medical facilities employ hundreds in the Upstate, and these front-line health care workers have never been more essential.
How have the Upstate health care systems adjusted their services? One of the Upstate’s largest health systems, Bon Secours St. Francis, already operated a convenient INR testing drive-thru site at its Millennium campus (2 Innovation Drive). The INR, or international normalized ratio, is a blood test patients who have been prescribed blood thinners take regularly to see how well the medicine is working. In March 2020, the team at Bon Secours St. Francis expanded that by opening a small operation for COVID-19 testing.
How has it increased in the last year? There is now a dual-car-lane tent capable of supporting COVID-19 testing as well as other services such as flu vaccine administration for Bon Secours patients. In a typical day, the staff can see around 100 to 150 patients, but can handle upwards of 300 patients through the drive-thru.
How many employees are needed for a drive-thru operation? Bon Secours St. Francis employs nearly 4,000 associates in the Upstate. Currently the drive-thru is supported by a team of 15 associates ranging from patient service representatives who perform all the administrative functions, medical assistants, licensed practical nurses, and registered nurses who obtain the COVID-19 swabs and perform other clinical duties such as administering flu vaccines.
Will this particular team be administering the COVID-19 vaccine in the drive-thru? There is not an immediate plan for that. However, this will be continually reevaluated as Bon Secours strives to meet the demand of its patients and the community. Patients can stay up to date on the health system’s vaccination efforts by visiting bonsecours.com.
How do some feel about working outside in the weather? Dena Douglas, registered nurse and manager of the site, said her team has risen to the need. “The drive-thru has certainly presented a very unique set of challenges and experiences,” she says. “Personally, I have very much enjoyed putting these puzzle pieces together, but I think what I have loved about this experience the most is the teamwork which has occurred. We have all been faced with a brand-new challenge, which has no immediate or obvious answers. It is something we are having to figure out as we go, and the grace and compassion I have witnessed between teammates, from leadership and within this ministry has been truly amazing.”
Amy Ryberg Doyle served for 12 years on Greenville City Council. She is married and has four children. An outdoors enthusiast, she likes to bike, swim and run, but not all in that order. She power-naps daily.