Where Can I Get Tested for COVID-19 in West Texas?

A sign in Midland, flashing messages to drivers during the coronavirus crisis. (Mitch Borden/Marfa Public Radio)

Can I Get Tested For COVID-19 In The Big Bend Region?

While local medical providers in the Big Bend region do not have the capability to actually run tests and get results for the new coronavirus directly, Alpine’s hospital and area clinics are able to swab a limited number of patients and send samples off to one of several labs to get results.

A patient should first call their general practitioner or local hospital if they’re concerned about having contracted COVID-19. In most cases, the healthcare provider will do a preliminary phone screening. After a phone screening, if a patient meets the criteria for testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of State Health Services, the hospital or clinic will then do a swab that will be sent off for results. Test results can take up to a week to receive, as public and private health labs face a growing backlog of tests.

Local providers are urging people experiencing cold-like symptoms to be extra cautious and stay home, even if they would normally go to work under such conditions.

The symptoms of COVID-19 range from mild to severe (with most cases being mild-to-moderate) and can include a dry cough, low to high fever, shortness of breath and in fewer cases, a runny nose.

If you think you may have COVID-19, local doctors are asking that you do not walk directly into a local clinic or hospital, as you may spread the virus to other people. Instead, call ahead and your provider will advise you of next steps.

Here are the healthcare providers that have the limited capability of administering testing swabs in the Big Bend:

  • Marfa Country Clinic – (432) 729-3000
  • Marfa Community Health Clinic – (432) 729-1800
  • Presidio County Medical Clinic – (432) 229-3030
  • Preventive Care Health Services – (432) 837-4555
  • Big Bend Regional Medical Center –(432) 837-3447

How Do I Get Screened And Tested For COVID-19 In The Permian Basin?

Midland and Odessa are the center of medical care for the large oil-producing region. The two cities combined have three hospitals, multiple emergency clinics, and many private providers. The Midland-Odessa area does not currently have the ability to run tests in local labs at this time, but the region does have multiple locations where, with a doctor’s order, healthcare providers will swab patients to collect a sample to send to public and private labs for the COVID-19 test.

Before any sample can be taken though, Permian Basin residents must call their primary physician to be screened. Locals without a doctor can call hotlines set up by Permian Basin hospitals where healthcare workers will assess whether or not an individual meets the criteria for a COVID-19 test. The most common criteria followed by physicians comes from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Officials are asking anyone who has been exposed to the coronavirus or is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 to stay home rather than going to a clinic or hospital for an in-person screening in order to to mitigate the spread of the virus.

The Midland County Health Department recently announced that there is already community spread occurring in the Permian Basin.

68Nurse

In Midland, Midland Memorial Hospital has opened up its 68 Nurse hotline to screen residents for the coronavirus 24-hours a day, seven days a week. To reach local nurses call:

1-855-686-8773

This hotline is free and residents can call with general health questions. Recently, the Midland Memorial 68Nurse system has been overwhelmed by residents, but the hospital is expanding its call capacity. It is advised that if you do not get through to a nurse — try again a little later.

MCH Hotline

Odessa’s COVID-19 hotline was just established by Medical Center Hospital. Its hours are limited though, locals can call from 9 am – 8:30 pm on weekdays and 10 am – 5 pm on weekends. To reach healthcare providers for a remote screening in Odessa call:

1-432-640-2747

This hotline is new for the city and just opened up to calls earlier this week. Since this system is less established than Midland’s 68Nurse, its call capacity is still unknown.

Midland – Odessa Testing Sites

Primary care physicians can test patients at their practices. Both Midland and Ector County Public Health Departments are unable to accurately track the number of these tests administered at this time because reported numbers reflect patients diagnosed with COVID-19. The three local hospitals, Memorial Hospital, Medical Center Hospital, and Odessa Regional Medical Center are taking the lead in testing so far.

In Midland – Odessa, over 200 tests have already been administered.

Midland Memorial is using a drive-through testing site on its Western Campus located at:

  • Midland Memorial Hospital – West Campus
    214 Andrews Hwy
    Midland, TX 79703
    (432) 221-1111

Odessa Regional Medical Center is opening up its Community Health Center for testing Monday through Friday from 9 am – 1 pm.

  • ORMC’s West Campus Community Health Center
    520 E. 5th Street
    Odessa, TX 79761
    432-582-8000

Medical Center Hospital is opening up its three urgent care clinics around Odessa as testing sites. Their locations are as follows:

  • Urgent Care – 42nd Street
    1940 East 42nd Street
    Odessa, TX 79762
    Phone: (432) 640-2749
    Mon – Fri 9:00 am – 8:30 pm
    Sat & Sun 10:00 am to – 5:30 pm
  • Urgent Care – JBS Parkway
    3001 JBS Parkway
    Odessa, Texas 79762
    Phone: (432) 640-6700
    Mon – Fri 9 am – 8:30 pm
    Sat & Sun 10 am to – 5:30 pm
  • Urgent Care – West University
    6030 West University
    Odessa, TX 79764
    Phone: (432) 640-6600
    Mon – Fri 9 am – 8:30 pm
    Sat & Sun 10 am to – 5:30 pm

The time it takes for results to come back from the private and public health labs local caregivers are using to analyze the tests vary. Currently, the vast majority of the tests collected in the Permian Basin have yet to be run.

During the coming week in Midland, health officials are expecting to receive different tests that providers will will be able to analyze in-house with a wait time of about 45 minutes for results. The supply of these fast tests will be limited.

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