By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The Cherokee Indian Hospital is starting drive-thru coronavirus (COVID-19) testing beginning Thursday, April 2. This testing service, open only to residents of the Qualla Boundary, is available Monday through Friday at a testing site on Drama Hill Road by the Mountainside Theatre and is by appointment only.
As of the morning of Wednesday, April 1, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) Joint Information Committee reported that the Cherokee Indian Hospital has conducted 36 total tests with 28 negative results, 1 positive result (patient was a non-resident who is no longer on the Qualla Boundary), and 7 are awaiting results.
According to information from EBCI Public Health and Human Services, a person should seek medical advice as to whether they should be tested or not “if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever, or symptoms such as cough or difficulty breathing.”
Cherokee Indian Hospital officials noted, “Those who feel like they may need to be tested must call our COVID-19 Hotline (828-497-3743) between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to speak directly with one of our health care professionals. If it is determined that someone needs to be tested, they will be given an appointment time for when to arrive at our drive-thru testing site. Anyone presenting for testing will need to stay in his or her vehicle as a safety precaution, and self-quarantine until test results are in, which usually takes between three to five days.”
Dr. Richard Bunio, Cherokee Indian Hospital executive medical director, said, “Cherokee Indian Hospital’s drive-thru testing is designed to quickly and safely test community members and help identify any cases of COVID-19 on the Boundary. By increasing the scope of our testing, we have an opportunity to quarantine any cases early before the virus has a chance to become widespread.”