WASILLA — Urgent Care at Lake Lucille officially opened their new COVID-19 mobile screening unit Nov. 18.

Medical director Dr. Lou Packer said that it started out slow but word quickly got around and they’ve seen a steady increase in patients for COVID-19 screenings.

“It’s a good service for the community that’s being well received,” Packer said.

The public is encouraged to call ahead before driving to the facility, especially if they’re symptomatic. Packer said they’re currently utilizing telehealth services for symptomatic patients, who are urged to stay home.

The test is free but there is a small administrative fee. Tests take around 30 minutes from start to finish, according to certified medical assistant Dana Stewart. She busily went from vehicle to vehicle to assist patients Wednesday evening.

“Today was very busy,” certified medical assistant Dana Stewart said.

Packer said they try to make the process as quick as possible.

“People are pretty happy to be able to come in and not to have to wait very long,” Packer said.

Patients are processed based on a criteria for what type of test they’ll receive. Those who are symptomatic, students, and critical workers, such as healthcare professionals and police officers, are eligible for rapid tests.

Those who do not meet the criteria for rapid testing receive a PCR test which is sent out to the state testing laboratories. According to Stewart, it can take up to 72 hours to receive the results back from the lab.

According to Packer, the cause for the criteria is due to limited availability of rapid test kits distributed by the state.

“We’re lucky we were able to secure two of the rapid machines,” Packer said. “It hasn’t been done without difficulty.”

Packer and his colleagues are witnessing the sober reality of rising cases statewide.

“We’re seeing a lot of positives,” Packer said. “A lot of people are afraid to test… Get tested because we don’t want to spread this thing around. We want to find out who they all are and separate them… It’s so incredibly infectious.”

Packer has been practicing medicine since the 1980s.

“No one’s seen anything like this,” Packer said. “I don’t know how kids are taking this in. This has got to be very damaging for people... They see that everyone is afraid.”

Packer praised Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink for her work during the crisis.

“Dr. Anne Zink has done a great job. I can’t emphasize that enough, great leadership,” Packer said.

COVID-19 screening hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“We’ll expand that as it gets busier,” Packer said.

Urgent Care at Lake Lucille is located at 185 East Parks Highway in downtown Wasilla. For more information, call 907-373-4200.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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