CORPUS CHRISTI, Tex. — While CHRISTUS Spohn announced its hospitals were starting COVID-19 antibody testing this week, those tests are only available to employees and certain patients.
Meanwhile, one local chain of urgent care clinics has offered them since April 1st, and they’re available to the public.
Robert Perez was tested for COVID-19 Wednesday. The 19-year-old hasn’t shown symptom, but as an Emergency Medical Technician, he could come face to face with the virus on any call.
“I just want to make sure that I don’t have it,”said Perez. “This disease is very dangerous, I just want to make sure.”
With a finger prick, Perez has his results within minutes. No antibodies, no trace of COVID-19.
“It’s just good to know,” said Perez.
He’s one of a growing number in the Coastal Bend to be tested for exposure to the Coronavirus without meeting criteria from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“People are coming if they want that peace of mind because they potentially could have been exposed, or they just want to know. We’re more than happy to do it for them,” said Katherine Rabagos.
Rabagos runs StatCare Urgent Care. With clinics in Corpus Christi, Calallen, and Kingsville, StatCare offered nasal swab testing. But limited supply and a 24 hour wait for results had Rabagos, her patients, and staff on-edge. Those results are now instant.
“The rapid result actually brought down then anxiety for patients, but also for my staff,” said Rabagos. “We were able to find out right then and there.”
There are also plenty of antibody tests available, which means anyone who wants to be tested can be.
“We’re getting to that point where we can freely test people now, without having to meet such stringent criteria like initially,” said Rabagos.
Not only does these tests give peace of mind, Rrabagos says they’ll help in the search for a vaccine.
“Tracking this data as to who’s got the antibody against this virus will definitely change how we treat and approach the coronavirus,” said Rabagos.
Right now, this $35 test is not covered by insurance. This testing fee is in addition to the regular $85 office visit charge. Between its three locations, StatCare has tested more than a hundred patients. So far, only one has tested positive for COVID-19.