Pictured is an aerial view of the drive-thru testing at the Ville Platte Civic Center. (Photo courtesy of Cliff Palmer)
Swabbing for symptoms
Cars were once again lined up at the Ville Platte Civic Center on Friday, April 24, just as they were on Thursday when Mayor Jennifer Vidrine handed out masks. This time people from Evangeline Parish and beyond were lined up to be tested for COVID-19. The tests were not only for those with symptoms, but for anyone who wanted to be tested. Vidrine said it was important to test those without symptoms because they could have the virus and spread it without knowing it.
A crew from Southwest Louisiana Primary Health Care Center, Inc. performed the tests. Each test consisted of long swabs inserted into the cavity between the nose and the mouth via the nostrils. The swabs were then placed into a container and sent to a lab for testing. Friday’s test results were ready by the following Tuesday.
Dodie LaMott, CEO of Southwest Louisiana Primary Health Care Center, Inc., which includes the agencies Evangeline Family Medicine, Northside Community Health Center, and All Kids Pediatric of Opelousas, said the mobile testing unit will return to perform more tests. “Everything is contingent on supplies and testing,” said LaMott. “The state has been working diligently with us.” She thanked Dr. Tina Stefanski, regional director of the Office of Public Health, whose team has been working steadfastly with the Southwest team to assist with supplies to help address community needs during COVID-19.
LaMott added, “We’re committed to the community. We’re here to address that need. We’re here to make sure they have a safe haven, and we are concerned about their health.” The Southwest team will be testing in Lafayette and St. Landry parishes as well. “We’re going to meet the people where they are,” she said. Currently, they are only testing for the virus and not the antibodies.
LaMott thanked Mayor Vidrine and the response of Evangeline Parish citizens. “We had an overwhelming response today, and we are so excited to be in the Ville Platte area. We thank the mayor abundantly because she really wanted to make certain her community’s needs were met.”
Mayor Vidrine said, “We’re the first city in the parish to get mobile testing for anyone who wants to get testing, and that is the most important thing. They can get tested whether they have symptoms or not. I know we’ve had zero deaths in the parish, but that’s giving people a false sense of security. Testing is the key to see how we will go forward and how the governor will make his orders going forward.” She thanked Governor Edwards and Southwest Primary Louisiana Primary Care Center for making the testing happen. “They made this happen in record time.” She said not having tests in the parish was keeping her up at night. “I couldn’t sleep. I really couldn’t sleep knowing the people of Ville Platte were not getting tested. It was so important for us to get this done because this virus is still running rampant. We want people to still take the precautions of staying home and not go out if you don’t have to, but if you do go out, please wear your mask. Especially the elderly population.” She praised the citizens who turned out to be tested.
In all, over 100 tests were administered in two hours. Anyone wishing to be tested can register by calling 337-678-9000. The tests are free. Even if you show no symptoms of COVID-19, you can still get tested.