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UPMC in Williamsport expanding home test program

UPMC Susquehanna and Susquehanna Regional EMS are testing more people from the comfort of their own homes in north-central Pennsylvania.

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Susquehanna Regional EMS and UPMC in Williamsport are expanding their at-home COVID-19 testing program.

The program began last month when regional medical services traveled to the homes of high-risk patients, and now they are targeting people who live in care facilities.

"Extended care facilities have reached out to us to make sure that they can identify in their population whether someone is symptomatic or asymptomatic and who may need to be isolated from the rest of the population," said Deputy Chief Mark Trueman of Susquehanna Regional EMS.

"It is a nasal pharyngeal swab, so it is a swab that goes into the nostril, it's twirled around all the way in the back of your nose for 30 seconds," said infectious disease expert Dr. Rutul Dalal.

EMS is also administering home tests for people who plan to come to the hospital for a scheduled procedure.

"The hospital has asked us to do pre-admission testing, which includes the COVID swab to make sure the patient is safe and testing is in their home, similar to what has been done the past month." 

Susquehanna Regional EMS says it is doing up to five home tests every day across north-central Pennsylvania. 

"You know the reception has been remarkable in regards to this service line, and I think that's why it has grown so much into extended care and into pre-admission testing from our initial response to COVID." 

UPMC officials say the number of cases of COVID-19 may rise due to an increase in testing.

"We are seeing more patients coming in with COVID-19, but I think it's because of the better testing, and the number of people being tested are higher than before."