Pine Plains Pharmacy is testing for COVID-19, hopes to offer vaccines
PINE PLAINS — As COVID-19 vaccines slowly make their way to priority groups across New York State, Pine Plains residents can make an appointment at the Pine Plains Pharmacy, located at 2965 Church St., to get tested for the deadly coronavirus.
Pharmacy owner and operator Nasir Mahmood said he started offering COVID-19 testing on Dec. 22. He gave his updated hours as of Tuesday, Jan. 26, saying appointments are available six days a week from noon to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays; from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays; and from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
In addition to acquiring the COVID-19 tests from New York State and the Dutchess County Department of Health (DOH), Mahmood said there are other companies that his pharmacy has contracted with — such as MDAmerica and Prescriptive — that also provide COVID-19 tests as well as scheduling and other like services.
To schedule an appointment, residents can go online to the Town of Pine Plains website at www.pineplains-ny.gov and click on the link for the intake form that must be filled out. Additionally, customers may call the pharmacy, which will send them a link to the form.
Then, residents will need to download the Navica app onto their phones in order to receive their test results. Another benefit of the app is that residents will get a travel pass.
On the day of their appointment, Mahmood said patients should drive into the pharmacy’s parking lot, which is off North Main Street behind the pharmacy building; then they should call the pharmacy at 518-398-5588 to notify staff of their arrival. Along with staying inside their vehicle for the test, he said patients should sit on the passenger side of their vehicle and wear both gloves and a face mask. Meanwhile, the pharmacy staff will wear gloves and face masks as well as gowns and face shields, doubling up on the masks for protection every time they do a test and changing gloves every time they test a new person.
For the actual test, Mahmood said he goes out to meet the patient with an iPad to scan the QR code for the Navica app that tells him who the patient is. He said the staff will give the patient the swab and instruct them to open it, lower their masks and swab both nostrils, going about 1 to 1.5 inches deep and spinning the swab clockwise in each nostril. The patient will then hand the swab over to the pharmacy staff, who will take it back to the pharmacy, scan the test to match the patient with the test and insert the swab in the test card. After adding six drops of the reagent into the top hole of the test card, Mahmood said they put the name and time on the card and wait 15 minutes.
Once the 15 minutes are up, pharmacy staff scans the test again and puts in negative or positive, sending the results off to the patient who will receive the results via the Navica app. The pharmacy also reports every test on the state registry, regardless of the results. For those who test positive, Mahmood said the pharmacy calls the patient and counsels them on what to do next.
On average, Mahmood said the pharmacy is doing about 15 to 20 tests a day at $95 a test, which takes registration, screening and reporting into account.
“When we are there, nothing else gets done,” he said, “just the test for those three, four hours.”
As far as how the testing has been going, Mahmood said they haven’t had any major glitches so far, although there have been times where the app doesn’t scan. When asked about the ratio of tests that have come back negative versus positive, he said there’s no set answer, and that it depends on the population, where the patient is coming from and if they’re symptomatic. On one day, he said he did 21 tests and only one came back positive; on another day, he conducted 18 tests and reported seven positive tests. In terms of accuracy, he said the tests are 94 to 95% accurate.
“This is really the clinical work with pharmacies working on top of their license, which is what we’re always trying to do, and it’s really helping the communities a lot,” Mahmood said. “It’s very satisfying for us to be providing this service to the community, and we’re in line for vaccines, so hopefully we can get the vaccine soon and start vaccinating people.”