Out of the more than 6,000 tests they’ve conducted, about 20 percent have been positive
Dr. Barry Feldman and Michigan Healthcare Professionals (MHP), the group practice he co-founded, set up a COVID-19 testing clinic behind their office building in March and have since tested more than 6,000 people.
Just like the rest of the world, Feldman and his practice were taken off guard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because Feldman’s primarily older, sick patients are especially at-risk, he had to make an important decision.
“We decided around mid-March that we were going to close our doors to patients and go into a virtual lockdown, conducting all of our business via telemedicine,” Feldman said.
Feldman then went a step further. He and his wife Lesley, who is also the practice’s manager, decided to set up a testing clinic behind their office building in Farmington Hills.
Feldman immediately proceeded to recruit staff willing to help with the rigorous testing efforts. The clinic then rented an RV trailer, which holds the needed electronics for the testing process, and acquired a drive-through tent which protects the doctors from the elements.
The doctors in the testing clinic consist of Ryan Victor, Jeffrey Provizer and Jeff Lipsky, and their presence for the testing also allows Feldman to complete his administrative duties throughout the day. All of the doctors and administrators in the clinic don full protective gear.
As the testing clinic has evolved, the process has been cloned, with two more MHP testing sites in Rochester and Waterford. Additional medical staff Elizabeth Owen, Barb Hartman, Rhonda Davis, Eric Davis, Jackie Crawford, Sarah Dworetsky and Kelly Griffin have been helping out with testing at those sites. A liaison, Amy Glasser, goes out to procure equipment if a certain testing site needs it, including anything from tape to tents to RVs.
“These people are superstars,” Feldman said. “Rain, sleet, snow, they show up every single day.”
A philanthropic donor from California (whom Feldman said wished to not be named) donated protective gear, including 800 gowns and 700 masks to the testing center, which Feldman describes as invaluable.
Feldman and his practice started the clinic on March 20, testing about 60 patients a day. At this point, the clinic is now up to testing 120 people a day. About 20 percent of the clinic’s testing has come back positive for coronavirus.
A whiteboard displayed at the clinic, consisting of all the data compiled so far, is updated every week. As of the week of May 18, the MHP COVID-19 testing clinic has seen over 6,400 drive-through visits, treated 22,000 telemedicine encounters and kept 1,830 people out of emergency rooms and hospitals.
Feldman and his practice are also currently working on a research project that will be published in the near future. The project aims to alert people that there will be individuals returning to work soon that are totally asymptomatic yet have the virus. In their limited study of testing six industries so far, roughly 10 percent of people in the study have COVID-19 but are asymptomatic.
Many individuals tested by the clinic have inquired about COVID-19 antibody testing, but Feldman believes there’s still more questions than answers about that.
“The problem with antibody testing is that we don’t quite know what to do with that yet,” Feldman explained. “We don’t know whether infection from coronavirus gives you long-term immunity. A negative immunoglobulin doesn’t mean you’re virus-free. It just means you haven’t formed immunoglobulins yet.”
Feldman holds firm that it could take many months, if not years, to come to a point where the virus is understood completely and where weapons for both preventing it and treating it have been developed. More than anything, Feldman hopes for a cautious and prudent return to a new normal.
“As anxious as I am to see our economy and everything else get going, I’ve looked this monster in the face, and I can tell you, we don’t want to go back there,” Feldman added. “We have to be extremely careful in how we start this locomotive because once it gets rolling, it’s hard to stop.”