A new Coney Island health center opened its doors on Tuesday, allowing residents access to free testing for COVID-19, the flu, and strep throat.
The COVID-19 Testing and Resource Center — located in Coney Island Cathedral on Mermaid Avenue between W. 28th and W. 29th streets — allows residents to schedule rapid COVID-19 tests, nasal swab tests, flu shots, or appointments with a primary care provider, said the center’s chief executive.
“The intent is for the patient to walk away diagnosed and treated, whether [it’s] COVID-19, or something that requires antibiotics, like strep,” said Alex Movshovich, who runs the health organization Community Health Initiatives, Inc. (CHI), which operates the center.
Patients who are uninsured can get tested or schedule a doctor’s appointment for free, while insured patients will have their needs covered by their insurance company. All coronavirus tests are free for insured residents under the The Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
The rapid COVID-19 tests are only available to patients experiencing symptoms, and yield results within about 10 minutes, Movshovich said. Anyone can schedule an appointment for a nasal swab test, which are experiencing a one-to-two day turn around time.
The opening of the new testing site — which offers appointments Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm — comes as the city combats an uptick in cases of COVID-19. Since Nov. 1, the average percentage of positive tests every day has risen from 1.8 percent to 3.01 percent, triggering this week’s school closures and threatening a larger lockdown.
Coney Island is seeing an even higher positivity rate, with an average of 4.58 percent of COVID-19 tests coming back positive in the past week, according to city data.
Movshovich said that the CHI Health Center decided to open the Coney Island clinic not only because of the rising number of cases, but because of the impending flu season.
“We recognized that with the flu and strep season approaching, and the similarity in symptoms with COVID-19, there needed to be increased access points for testing,” he said. “Having an additional testing site in the community that provides testing, education, and immediate access to primary care will help our residents deal with the uncertainty when and if they have symptoms.”
Apart from the new center, residents can get walk-in swab and antibodies tests at Coney Island Hospital on Ocean Parkway, the Ida G. Israel Community Health Center on W. 19th Street, and City MD in Brighton Beach.
Local officials Councilman Mark Treyger, Assemblywoman Mathylde Frontus, and state Sen. Diane Savino attended the opening of the new center, and thanked the healthcare providers for servicing Coney Island, which has been particularly hard-hit by the virus.
“Coney Island had one of the highest death rates during this pandemic, which is a testament to the crucial
need for this COVID-19 resource and testing site,” Sen. Diane Savino said at the opening. “I applaud CHI Health Center for being on the frontlines of this health crisis and providing our residents with the information and testing they deserve to help navigate their way through these difficult times.”