CHI Health Center’s COVID 19 Testing and Resource Center opened recently at Coney Island Cathedral, dedicated to providing same-day rapid COVID-19, strep and flu tests, and flu shots. The center opens as the flu and strep season begins and at a point in time when the incidence of COVID-19 is on the rise.
“When we conceived the idea of our Testing and Resource Center, we recognized that with the flu and strep season approaching, and the similarity in symptoms with COVID-19, there needed to be increased access points for testing. Having an additional testing site in the community that provides testing, education and immediate access to primary care will help our residents deal with the uncertainty when and if they have symptoms. As providers, patients, parents, and members of this community, we want to prepare ourselves as best as possible,” said Alex Movshovich, CEO of CHI Health Center (Community Health Initiatives, Inc.).
CHI is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), primarily focused on Coney Island, offering primary, behavioral and specialty care, with increasing attention to telehealth. As an FQHC, CHI Health Center operates to serve the most underserved and vulnerable individuals and families, regardless of ability to pay. The new testing site, which will be open at the Cathedral from 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday, will serve as an additional “triage center” for existing as well as new patients to ensure a safer environment for providers and patients at the main site, Mr. Movshovich says. You will be able to access a medical provider at the church via telehealth. However, he added, to schedule an in-person appointment with a provider, visit www.chihealthcenter.com.
That accessibility cannot be underestimated, said Bishop Waylin Hobbs, senior pastor and chief visionary of Coney Island Cathedral, Inc. “There’s a real, immediate benefit to the community by providing the opportunity to get tested,” he said.
“We’re excited for this opportunity, and we can’t lose sight of ingrained inequities between lower income citizens and access to affordable healthcare. This eases that inequity and also creates new pathways for more diligent self-care.”
Linkage to care — particularly for patients who are not engaged in their primary care — is a planned result of the new center, said Movshovich, who emphasizes that testing services are not intended to be “one-off” actions. Echoing the thoughts of Bishop Hobbs, he points out that “it’s especially important to have people in the community benefit from follow-up in the primary care or specialty care areas. Having an open, collaborative relationship between patient and physician and staff makes a huge difference in their total health picture.”
As the incidence of COVID-19 sharply spikes, the Center will be there to meet the community need with 1000 rapid response tests made available by the NYC Department of Health.
“Coney Island had one of the highest death rates during this pandemic, which is a testament to the crucial need for this COVID-19 resource and testing site,” said State Senator Diane Savino. “I applaud CHI Health Center for being on the frontlines of this health crisis and providing our residents with the information and testing they deserve to help navigate their way through these difficult times. I urge everyone to utilize this site, get tested, and help prevent a second wave.”
Councilman Mark Treyger, representing Coney Island, Bensonhurst, Gravesend and Seagate, says, “Southern Brooklyn is one of the most impacted communities of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we continue to battle this virus, the brand-new CHI Health Center COVID-19 rapid testing site in Coney Island will provide much-needed support and health care resources for residents. I commend CHI CEO Alex Movshovich and Bishop Waylin Hobbs for their partnership to open this rapid testing facility that will work to reduce COVID-19 transmission and infection rates, leading to better public health outcomes for our community.”
Many smaller primary care offices closed during the first COVID-19 wave in the Spring and only recently reopened, says Mr. Movshovich. “We remained open and also ramped up our telehealth component,” he points out, “and our new Testing and Resource Center will complement our testing capability at our main clinic and is in line with our commitment to public health for our underserved residents of the Coney Island community. Our working motto that we live every day is ‘Keeping Coney Island Healthy and Safe’.”
The CHI COViD-19 Testing and Resource Center, at the Coney Island Cathedral, is located at 2816 Mermaid Ave. in Brooklyn. The main clinic for CHI Health Center is located at 2882 West 15th Street, Lower Level in Brooklyn and can be contacted at 718.210.3110 or through the website at www.chihealthcenter.com.