(KITV) New UH lab offers free COVID testing to underserved communities

The lab provides free testing for Filipino and Pacific Islanders, those with limited access to healthcare and the houseless population. 

(SOURCE: KITV)

To help curb the spread of the Coronavirus among Hawai’i’s underserved communities, the University of Hawai’i at Manoa recently launched its “Tropical Medicine Clinical Laboratory.” 

The lab provides free testing for Filipino and Pacific Islanders, those with limited access to healthcare and the houseless population. 

“If we’re going to stamp out COVID in areas and communities with disproportionate infection rates, a high level of face-to-face care has to be given. This requires a network of interfacing services that includes our lab,” the lab’s community liaison Rosie Alegado said. 

The lab has partnered with community health centers across the island to hold on-site testing events at locations like Palolo Valley Homes, the Filipino Community Center in Waipahu and the Wahiawa Community Center. 

Since the beginning of the month, the lab has processed about 70 tests per day from walk-ins at the centers. 

“We provide focused testing in these communities and have been successful because of our partnerships with trusted organizations who encourage people to come out and get tested,” Alegado said. 

Test results are expected back between 24 and 48 hours, and testing is open to first responders and healthcare workers. Staff from UH Manoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine consider the lab a vital resource. 

“Success of the Tropical Medicine Clinical Laboratory will depend on UH as well as the community at large. It is very important for their support to sustain this lab in the near future,” said Vivek Nerurkar, the lab’s principal investigator. 

In the future, researchers aim to use the lab to help track emerging viruses and develop tools to spot tropical diseases such as Zika and rat lungworm. 

For a schedule of free COVID-19 testing events, click here.

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