MEDINA – Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Orleans Community Health has been actively working alongside the Orleans County Health Department to assist with community testing.

To date, Orleans Community Health has conducted nearly 30,000 tests, 90% of which were free to the public, according to Scott Robinson, director of marketing, education and outreach. For convenience, these tests have been conducted at the Albion clinic drive-thru, a feature that was developed and constructed for this primary purpose by Orleans Community Health.

These tests have been part of a federal program that was provided through New York state and the Orleans County Health Department. Due to supply shortages and back orders, there may not be enough of these free tests to get through the remainder of the calendar year, the hospital reports.

“Our staff has weathered extreme heat, freezing rain and snow to provide these tests,” said Marc Shurtz, CEO of Orleans Community Health. “We have been in constant communication with the Orleans County Health Department to help fill this void.”

“On behalf of the Orleans County Health Department, we are grateful for the great partnerships we have with Orleans Community Health, Oak Orchard Health, pharmacies and providers,” said Paul Pettit, director of Genesee and Orleans Health departments. “With the limited supply of testing supplies sent to rural areas, it again burdens our residents and makes it challenging for them to get tested before attending family gatherings during the holiday. We are doing our best to get access to rapid tests to meet the needs of our residents.”

In lieu of these tests becoming available, Orleans Community Health Department and Orleans Community Health are working diligently on getting a low-cost option to the community. Residents are being asked to continue calling the Orleans Community Health Albion clinic for updates. Additionally, updates will be provided on the Orleans Community Health social medical accounts. The Albion clinic still has the PCR COVID-19 test available, which is run through the laboratory and requires a script written by a provider. Unfortunately, these tests are more time consuming and will reduce the amount of testing that can be conducted.

Orleans Community Health and Orleans County Health Department will continue to work together to make sure the larger community is getting the resources they need to stay healthy., Conversations with state and federal elected officials are ongoing, as they are aware of the shortage and the need for more affordable and free tests.

Both Orleans Community Health and Orleans County Health Department continue to recommend all eligible members of the community to get vaccinated and receive their boosters.

For Orleans County, clinics are held once a week at the Orleans County Health Department, located at 14016 Rt. 31 West, Albion. Registration is required for all vaccinations. Children aged 5 to 17 are to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. To make an appointment, visit their website at https://gohealthy.org/covid-19-vaccine-information/ or https://vaccines.gov.

Those who are 60 and older without internet access can contact the Office for the Aging at (585) 589-3191 between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and leave a message. If you get a voicemail, someone will return the call. The OFA can only assist with the clinic links, as they are available.

Governor Hochul announced on Dec. 20 that each county would receive free at-home COVID-19 test kits. The exact date these kits will be received is not known, but they will be distributed to the County Emergency Management Department. Once they receive them, they will be distributed to schools, libraries, fire halls and community-based organizations, etc. This information will be announced to the public when the county receives the test kits.

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