A mobile testing van is expected to make its way by spring to Hempstead Town communities that have been hit hard by the coronavirus.
The testing vehicle, operated by Mount Sinai South Nassau, will be deployed six days a week throughout the town and may later be used to deliver vaccinations once a supply is available. Appointments will be taken Monday to Saturday.
Hempstead Town Board members unanimously approved $695,000 in federal CARES funding to the hospital to increase testing and equip a medical vehicle. The town is expending its remainder of $133 million it received from the U.S. Treasury Department for COVID-19-related expenses.
"We have no control over this virus, but testing is essential," Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin said. "We want to expand it by getting mobile testing available, and when vaccines become more available, we want to have it at every location."
The mobile unit will be dispatched to communities in the town that have had high positivity rates, including Uniondale, Hempstead Village and Roosevelt, Clavin said.
The grant will be used to purchase and equip a testing vehicle from North Carolina, South Nassau officials said.
"This mobile unit will allow us to bring COVID rapid testing and potentially vaccinations directly to communities within the Town of Hempstead, particularly areas that have been hard hit by the pandemic," Mount Sinai South Nassau Richard J. Murphy said in a statement.
The funding will support mobile operations through June, but the town will review whether the program will continue through the end of the year, officials said. Funding will go toward staffing and testing and vaccination equipment before it is dispatched in the next 30 to 60 days.
"This will benefit way beyond the immediate surroundings of the Oceanside hospital, our 1,200 miles of roads in villages, senior centers, firehouses and parks," Hempstead Councilman Anthony D’Esposito said. "As long as people need to be tested and vaccinated, we’ll be in the community."
The town previously awarded South Nassau $450,000 in December for a drive-thru testing site at the hospital in Oceanside. The hospital has tested 10,000 people so far, including admitted patients and nearly 2,000 community members who scheduled tests through appointments. The drive-thru program was extended by the town through the end of February.
Northwell Health officials have been testing at spiritual centers in hard-hit communities, but have not offered mobile services for testing and vaccinations.
Northwell started vaccinating at testing sites and churches, including last week in Huntington Station and Roosevelt. Northwell plans to continue testing on Tuesday for members of the Islamic Center in Westbury and at St. Rosa Lee Church in Hampton Bays.