Medical group offers first drive-up coronavirus testing in Central Florida

Patients must have an appointment

A local medical group is the first in Central Florida to offer drive-up testing for the coronavirus, known as COVID-19.

Premier Medical Associates has 15 locations across Central Florida, but is offering testing at two locations: one in the The Villages and the other in Ocala.

Here’s how it works: A patients pulls up, they roll down their window and a medical professional will then take a nose and throat swab without them ever leaving their vehicle.

To determine who should be tested first, the company set up a call center.

They have 12 people screening calls for people who want to be tested. Premier Medical Associates Vice President of patient care, Lina Cohen, calls it their “Corona team.”

On Monday, they took 2,500 calls, Cohen said.

"Everybody wants to be tested without really needing to be tested, so we need to test the people that are urgent," Cohen said.

After being screened by phone, patients who qualify are scheduled for a tele-visit to limit the amount of sick people they have in the office.

Dr. Lydia Sanchez is one of the doctors conducting tele-medical visits online.

"I can see really if they have the symptoms if they are sneezing, if they are coughing, if they are having any respiratory distress," Sanchez said.

Only a portion of the people who have online visits are scheduled for a test.

They take the most urgent cases first.

“If you are a young person who just wants to be tested and we have a 75-year-old senior citizen, with other conditions, and presenting symptoms we’re going to test that patient first,” Cohen said.

If you would like to be considered for a test you can call Premier Medical Associates at 352-259-2159.

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