With Missouri’s first case of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) sparking concern in the St. Louis community and with more widely available testing resources, Mercy will open a drive-through COVID-19 test collection site* on Saturday, March 14, at the earliest.

Mercy Test Collection Site is exclusively for patients who have a fever of at least 100.4 degrees and respiratory symptoms including cough or shortness of breath. Anyone seeking a test must call Mercy’s COVID-19 Clinical Support Line at 314-251-0500 before arriving. 

“We will only provide screening for those who meet these requirements because testing prior to the appearance of symptoms can result in a false negative,” said Dr. Keith Starke, Mercy’s chief quality officer. “It’s critical for our communities that we screen those with the highest risk.”

Mercy is opening this drive-through location at the Mercy Virtual Care Center, 15740 S. Outer Forty Road in Chesterfield, to provide a designated place for COVID-19 testing for the St. Louis community.

“This drive-through testing site will prevent unnecessary exposure to our patients and caregivers in our hospitals and clinics,” said Donn Sorensen, Mercy’s executive vice president of operations who is leading COVID-19 response across Mercy. “By directing at-risk people to this site, Mercy will limit the traffic to our hospitals and clinics. The safety of our patients, visitors and co-workers is of the utmost importance.”

Patients will first call Mercy’s clinical support line at 314-251-0500 to be screened, and if appropriate, proceed to the test collection site. Mercy will collect a sample and send it to the designated lab, the state health department or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Results may take several days. There will be a cost associated with the testing; it’s unknown if commercial insurance or government funding will cover any of the cost.

Mercy is working closely with BJC HealthCare and SSM Health, as well as the state and local health departments, as additional sites are opened across St. Louis. Mercy also plans to open additional test collection sites across Mercy’s four states. 

While COVID-19 is spread from person to person, more than 80% of the patients who develop it will only become mildly ill. The concern is for patients with underlying medical conditions and the elderly, who are more likely to need hospital-level supportive care.

People with COVID-19 do not have a runny nose or nasal congestion. Symptoms to be aware of include:

  • 100.4 fever or higher - 90% will have fever.
  • Dry cough - 70% will have a dry cough.
  • Shortness of breath – for those who become more acutely ill.

The most important things you can do to protect yourself from any illness also applies to COVID-19:

  • Practice good hand hygiene all the time. Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If water is not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Practice the 6-foot rule. If you must be in a public space and notice someone ill, keep at least 6 feet away to lessen your risk.
  • Be considerate when you are sick. Stay home if you are feeling ill. You should be fever free for 24 hours before returning to work or school. Cover your cough and sneeze using the crook of your arm (inside elbow).
  • Get appropriate rest, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
  • Consider the “elbow touch” as an alternate to handshaking.

As part of Mercy’s mission and heritage for almost 200 years, we care for those in our community regardless of the illness or circumstance. Our current situation is no different. The Sisters of Mercy, long known as the Walking Sisters, have always turned and walked toward those in need. Whether it was a cholera or typhoid epidemic in Dublin, Ireland, in the early 1800s, or a smallpox outbreak in Springfield, Missouri, at the turn of the 20th century, the Sisters were many times the first to serve, without hesitation, whenever needed. Today, Mercy’s mission remains unchanged. We serve our communities with compassionate care, dignity and medical expertise.