Too many people with Coronavirus symptoms needed testing and didn’t know where to turn.
With area healthcare resources stretched beyond capacity, Formé Medical Center & Urgent Care partners, Gina Cappelli and Maria Trusa, knew they needed to act, and fast. They realized that testing, both diagnostic and for antibodies, was really the only way to measure, trace and contain this pandemic.
Those with Covid-19 symptoms and their contacts require immediate testing, especially patients from the very immigrant communities and populations that are often most affected, some performing “essential” service jobs and may have inadvertently spread infection without even knowing it.
Testing sites in Westchester materialized virtually overnight, as the County became a leading national Coronavirus hotspot, but some groups may have initially been overlooked in the rush to scale up testing. Challenges might include language barriers, identification, and the fact that existing “drive-through” sites require a car, and not everyone drives.
Seeing this problematic gap in the community’s healthcare, Forme Medical executives jumped into action to convert a section of their offices, a former “spa”used for elective cosmetic procedures, to become a bilingual “walk-through” testing site with its own street-level entrance at 7-11 South Broadway in White Plains.
Without a coordinated national testing plan in place, states and municipalities scrambled for resources, and private labs across New York state stepped up to process tests. Adhering to warnings and instructions from local and state government is essential, but healthcare organizations have had to go the extra mile. Forme accelerated the approval process and opened in just days, crediting patient trust, community credibility, and solid business relationships, including the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, The Business Council of Westchester, and the Westchester County Association, among others, plus CEO Trusa is on the Hispanic Advisory Board for Westchester County.
“Testing is an urgent need,” noted President/Founder Gina Cappelli, “We moved fast, and it helped that people know we’re genuine. Our unique ‘Medical Membership’ approach, a flat rate beginning at ~$2-3/day for unlimited visits, reflects an ongoing commitment to affordable primary and urgent care, a one-stop healthcare resource” that’s high quality, professional, and distinctly community focused.
Forme Medical has approximately 20,000 patient visits annually, and nearly half their patients are uninsured. Regardless of immigration status or socioeconomic conditions, patients can now get tested. Scheduled by appointment only, diverse patient populations range from residents at the nearby Ritz-Carlton to working class immigrants.
Cappelli and Trusa also cofounded Promise to Aid, a nonprofit that helps those who can’t afford preventive medicine, medication, or surgery.
“We treat everyone professionally and with dignity, which goes a long way, especially now,” notes CEO Maria Trusa, herself an immigrant from the Dominican Republic. “This pandemic has brought uncertainty, stress, and fear to our community. The testing process is coordinated, safe, and smooth, so it helps to relieve anxiety,” she added.
Forme has implemented several crisis protocols to keep patients and staff safe, such as telemedicine visits, improved communication that includes live online chats, safe foot traffic flows when getting tested, and discussing any concerns by phone in advance. Additionally, Forme goes one step further by ensuring each testing patient speaks with a healthcare practitioner, because education is key and other health concerns still need attention beyond stemming the spread of this virus.
Testing is M–F, 9AM–5PM, by appointment only at Formé’s convenient medical offices at 7-11 South Broadway in White Plains. With nearly 250 tests daily for either diagnosing CV-19 or detecting antibodies, results processed by Quest Diagnostics take just 2-3 days. Most insurances are accepted, and for the uninsured, it’s only a ~$25 copay. Call 914-723-4900 or visit http://www.formemedicalcenter.com/ to schedule an appointment.
“Just taking proactive steps to become better informed —about vital signs, and one’s status of Coronavirus infection and/or antibodies— can itself be an emotional gamechanger,” adds Trusa. “People know we’re here to help. We ‘walk the walk,’ even when we swab the nose.”