City opens two testing sites for elderly, people with pre-existing conditions

Gotham Health
The city announced the opening of walk-in testing at Gotham Health on Pitkin and Pennsylvania avenues on April 17.

A public health facility in East New York is now offering COVID-19 testing to elderly and those with pre-existing conditions in an effort to stem the spread of the pandemic, which has disproportionately affected communities of color, Mayor bill de Blasio said on Friday.  

“We can focus on some of the greatest needs in the city and some of these very painful disparities that have become clearer and clearer in this crisis,” he said.

Gotham Help, an outpost of the city’s Health + Hospitals system at the corner of Pitkin and Pennsylvania avenues, will operate the facility — which is one of five new public hospital system testing sites in the five boroughs, according to de Blasio. 

The city will provide 2,400 test kits to the centers each week, but de Blasio hopes to double that amount quickly as the city buys, and eventually produces, more kits.

The tests at the new facilities — as well as all other H+H facilities — will be administered to people with serious prior health conditions and those who are 65-years-old or more, unlike previous public hospitals testing sites, which were reserved for those who needed to be hospitalized. 

The expanded testing — which de Blasio has said is crucial to achieving a low-level of infection rates for the highly-contagious respiratory disease — comes after he announced on April 14 that out-of-state company Aria Diagnostics will donate some 50,000 kits to the city. 

The city will buy an additional 50,000 tests from Aria each week starting April 20, which will help expand capacity until the city launches homegrown production of the kits some time in May, according to de Blasio.

On top of the publicly-controlled Gotham Health sites, city officials also partnered with private healthcare provider One Medical and the healthcare workers union 1199SEIU to open five impromptu walk-in testing sites across the city.

The first three also opened April 17, including the borough’s outpost at Medgar Evers College on Bedford Avenue at Crown Street in Crown Heights. Sites also opened Friday in Queens and the Bronx.

Two more sites will open in Manhattan and on Staten Island Monday and these five additional locations will offer 3,500 tests per week, the mayor said.

These outposts will offer free testing to frontline 1199SEIU members, healthcare professionals, such as those that work at adult care facilities or work with people with disabilities, and to vulnerable New York City residents who are 65-years-old or older, according to Meg D’Incecco, a spokeswoman for One Medical.

Unlike with the public sites, however, New York City residents with pre-existing conditions do not automatically qualify for the free tests, according to D’Incecco.

The mayor’s announcement comes after a group of civic gurus with Community Board 6 demanded Hizzoner make more testing sites accessible for locals who don’t own a car, after health workers reportedly turned away car-less Brooklynites from getting tested at state-run drive-through facilities, such as the newest one in the Sears parking lot on Beverly Road in Flatbush.

The state Department of Health also opened a walk-in testing site in Brownsville on April 16 at the Multi-Service Center on Rockaway Avenue, along with two other sites in the Bronx and Queens this week, according to spokesman Jonah Bruno. 

The city previously planned to set up a testing site at Coney Island’s MCU Park, but a spokeswoman for the Mayor’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment regarding the status of that location.

To make an appointment for a COVID-19 test at the five city sites, call 311 to see if you meet the above criteria. 

Those sites are: 

  • Brooklyn: H+H Gotham Health, 2094 Pitkin Ave.
  • Bronx: H+H Gotham Health, 1225 Gerard Ave.
  • Staten Island: H+H Vanderbilt Health Center, 165 Vanderbilt Ave.
  • Manhattan: H+H Gotham Health, 264 W. 118th St. (opens April 20)
  • Queens: H+H Queens, 82-68 164th Street (opens April 20)

The three state-run walk-in sites are also open but require an appointment through the COVID-19 hotline at 888-364-3065. They are located at:

  • Brooklyn: Multi-Service Family Health Center, 592 Rockaway Ave.
  • Bronx: Tres Puentes Community Health Center, 271 E. 138th St.
  • Queens: First Presbyterian Church parking lot, 89-90 164th St.

To schedule an appointment at the private One Medical outposts, call 1-888-ONEMED1 or go to www.onemedical.com and sign up using the code NYCCARE30.

Their outposts are: 

  • Brooklyn: Medgar Evers College
  • Queens: York College
  • Bronx: Harlem River Lot J at Yankee Stadium
  • Manhattan, W 35th Street and Hudson Boulevard E (opens April 20)
  • Staten Island: Snug Harbor (opens April 20)