Yesterday I shared my distaste for the once-in-a-while drive-thru COVID-19 testing events. With a little effort, and at the same cost, people can be tested everyday of the week in a manner more suited for a medical procedure like a doctor’s office or clinic and not through a car window.

People don’t ask enough questions about their health care and are willing to accept anything anyone brings them. I asked a few simple questions directly to the Black Doctors Covid Consortium who came to Chester in March to do a drive-thru testing in Chester and I didn’t get a straight answer. I guess they figured I had no right to ask who invited them and they had no responsibility to answer. I decided all my other questions would probably not be answered so I let it go. 

Today, I read an article in the Washington Post where the Maryland Health Department has ordered a Prince George’s lab that had been processing coronavirus specimens collected at pop-up clinics to cease operations, saying the facility does not have the proper certification. Obviously, someone asked a few questions in Maryland which led to the suspension of Advanced Pain Medicine Institute’s license to operate a medical lab and perform any lab testing.

Advanced Pain Medicine Institute did exactly what the Black Doctors did. They tested over 1,000 people in a partnership with the state’s Korean community and churches serving immigrants and minorities in Baltimore City and Howard and Anne Arundel counties. The owner said he saw how people were struggling to get access to tests as the coronavirus spread and he thought he could use his lab to help. “I decided to give back to the community,” he said.

A Korean community group that was concerned that Asian Americans were not getting tested contacted Advanced Pain Medicine, and they began working together to hold the pop-up clinics at churches earlier this month. The community group managed the logistics on the ground, while Advanced Pain took responsibility for providing and processing the tests themselves.

I didn’t get a test at either of the Chester drive-thru testings. Did they tell people where their tests were being processed? If not, did anyone ask? I’m sure they gave you an opportunity to ask questions before they performed the test. Do any of you remember any questions you asked or did you trust everything was okay during the drive-thru procedure?

Reading the Washington Post article, I’m not convinced Advanced Pain Medicine did anything wrong other than take it upon themselves to serve the Asian, Hispanic, and Black community with COVID-19 tests they couldn’t get anywhere else. Unfortunately, it appears they didn’t have the proper relationships with the proper authorities and have been shut down as a result.

The owner says…

…he was still trying to understand the basis for the order and was cooperating with the state. “We’re trying to get to the bottom of it,” he said. “At this moment, I don’t know exactly what has happened.”

Even the official explanation why they were shut down seems fishy…

…he had been submitting his test results to the state and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “They have all that information,” he said…the lab is certified under the federal laboratory law, which a CDC database reflects. 

But in the Maryland order, it was stopping the lab’s activities because of concerns about potentially unvalidated tests and “the lack of a laboratory medical director.”

This whole COVID-19 thing is coming down to money, even the testing. If you don’t get the right approvals and use the right supplies, and send your tests to the right labs, you will be shut down like Advanced Pain Medicine. It doesn’t matter they carved out a particular niche population that wasn’t being served and doing the job according to the rules. 

Forturnately, groups like the Black Doctors have made all the proper connections to stay in the business of serving the black community. They may not let you know who they’re partnered with, but they continue to get the million dollar grants to do a great service. 

Advanced Pain Medicine must take a page from the Black Doctor’s book and learn how to forge those same relationships in the Maryland/D.C. area so they can keep testing the minority communities that needs them the most. 

The game of COVID-19 testing is no joke. Don’t be shy. Ask questions.