Neighborhood Health, a local non-profit community health center serving primarily low-income and uninsured populations, has just completed its first community COVID-19 testing day in the Arlandria neighborhood of Alexandria, where 236 residents received free COVID-19 tests on Saturday, May 16.
Neighborhood Health began testing symptomatic patients the first week in April and currently operates five free testing locations in Northern Virginia. Of the more than 1,400 tests conducted in the past six weeks, more than 700 patients have tested positive, with a high concentration of positive patients living in Arlandria and other low-income areas. Due to the high prevalence of COVID-19 in its patient population, Neighborhood Health is beginning community testing efforts in order to reach asymptomatic individuals in low-income communities. Neighborhood Health will provide follow-up care for individuals who test positive and do not already have a primary care provider, while also working with community partners to support affected individuals and families through the isolation and quarantine process.
Assistance in registering community members was provided by local community partners Casa Chirilagua, Community Lodgings, and Tenants and Workers United. The Alexandria Health Department provided logistical support and volunteers from the Medical Reserve Corps. United HealthCare provided free lunch to the staff and volunteers.
During the testing event, people were able to receive walk-up or drive-through testing in the parking lot at Four Mile Run Park. Each person went home with educational materials supplied by the Health Department and Neighborhood Health, and face masks supplied by Community Lodgings, if they did not have them.
Executive Director, Dr. Basim Khan, says this community testing event is the first of its kind for Neighborhood Health, and that the health center will continue to ramp up testing efforts in Arlandria and in other disproportionately affected neighborhoods in the coming weeks. “Community partners are key to getting the word out and helping register individuals and families. So, in addition to our current testing efforts aimed at symptomatic patients, community testing will be key in further expanding testing and follow up care for low-income Northern Virginia communities and curbing the spread of COVID-19.”
Neighborhood Health offers low-cost primary medical care, dental care, behavioral health, medications, lab tests, and other services to patients who are low-income, uninsured, and underinsured; many are immigrants. In 2019, Neighborhood Health served more than 30,000 patients. Many patients come from the lower-income neighborhoods in the region, such as Arlandria and the West End in Alexandria, Columbia Heights in Arlington, and the Route One corridor and Bailey’s Crossroads in Fairfax County. Neighborhood Health’s mission is to improve health and advance health equity in Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax by providing high-quality primary care regardless of ability to pay. Phone 703-535-5568.