Memorial Sets Closing Date for Public COVID-19 Testing Center
September 30, 2022
NORTH CONWAY, NH – Memorial Hospital is closing its dedicated COVID-19 testing center. The last day for tests will be Monday, October 10.
“We’ve seen a dramatic drop in testing demand since summer,” says Will Owen, RN, Memorial’s Emergency Management and Clinical Education Manager. “There are increasing options for testing through pharmacies, other health care providers, and tests delivered by mail by the state and federal governments. What is different from previous declines in testing demand over the past two years is this time closing does not leave a testing gap in the community.”
Owen added that the hospital will continue testing patients as needed as part of a medical visit, in primary care, in the emergency department, or in preparation for a medical procedure. Testing for most non-clinical purposes, such as for travel or return to work, will no longer be performed.
“If an individual believes they have COVID-19 symptoms or has had an exposure, the best recourse is to call your primary care provider for advice. If needed, the provider may recommend a home test, or suggest a PCR test done at the provider’s office or in in another health care location,” Owen said.
Individuals requiring tests for travel or to return to work should follow the instructions given by the travel company or employer.
Since the summer of 2020, Memorial has administered the PCR test for COVID-19, a laboratory-based test where a nasal swab from the patient is tested for the virus and returned within 12-72 hours, depending on lab volume. Current FDA-approved home test kits, received through the mail or purchased at a retail location, are much more accessible. Memorial previously advised that no PCR test is needed to confirm results from an FDA-approved home test kit.
The Memorial Hospital COVID-19 testing center moved to its current location near the emergency department entrance in fall 2020. Public testing operations began in the parking lot next to what is now the Orthopedics and Sports Medicine offices. Initially open only for those with COVID-19 symptoms, operations expanded to include asymptomatic testing as availability of testing materials improved and testing criteria changed. The center closed briefly in the fall of 2021 as COVID-19 cases and testing demand declined in the area, but resumed at the beginning of the omicron surge. Owen says Memorial is taking a similar approach and will keep the testing infrastructure in place in case there is another surge in testing demand.
“We’ve come a long way from the early days of COVID and COVID testing. Testing options have also improved. This is a good time for our team to step back and return to their usual hospital responsibilities. But, like before, we can scale back up quickly if needed.”
Last spring Memorial transitioned its vaccine operations from a standalone clinic in North Conway to its primary care offices. Vaccines are still be available to the public on Wednesdays by appointment from 8:00 am until noon, and for Memorial patients as part of a provider visit or nurse visit.
Memorial is also hosting drive through vaccine clinics for both COVID-19 and the seasonal flu on its North Conway campus on October 1, October 15, October 22, and October 29.
About Memorial Hospital
Memorial Hospital is a not-for-profit 25-bed Critical Access Hospital located in North Conway, NH, and is a member of the MaineHealth family. Its hospital services include a 24-hour emergency department, surgery center, clinical laboratory, heart health & wellness programs, imaging services, cardiopulmonary care, family birthing center, oncology, chemotherapy and infusion services. Practices include primary care and family medicine, diabetes care, behavioral health, women's health, podiatry, orthopedics and physical therapy. Memorial Hospital is also home to The Merriman House nursing home, which provides senior care services in a comfortable, home-like setting. For more information, www.memorialhospitalnh.org or call 603-356-5461.