Akron: Cleveland Clinic Akron General will open a COVID-19 testing location in downtown Akron in mid-June with assistance from the Akron Summit County COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund. United Way of Summit County will provide additional support to families and individuals at the testing site.
“Cleveland Clinic Akron General has been working closely with United Way, the City of Akron, Summit County Public Health, and the County Executive’s Office to help create a centrally located COVID-19 testing site for Summit County patients,” said Brian Harte, M.D., President of Akron General.
According to Summit County Public Health, it is estimated that 36 percent of individuals in Summit County who are infected with COVID-19 are African American. According to the Ohio Disease Reporting System, however, African Americans represent 15 percent of the total county population.
“This site is an important step in addressing health disparities affecting minority populations that exist with COVID-19, and can serve as a component of an overall strategy for providing a community-based solution to testing access,” said Dr. Harte. “We continue to have discussions with county health officials on ways to manage testing.”
Cleveland Clinic continues to lead COVID-19 testing in Northeast Ohio, providing tests for patients with no copays, and regardless of their ability to pay. A doctor’s order and an appointment are required for a test. Patients with COVID-19 symptoms are asked to first consult a healthcare provider using Cleveland Clinic’s digital platform, Express Care Online, or call their primary care physician to evaluate their symptoms and determine if testing is appropriate.
The Akron Summit County COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund will provide $150,000 to help cover costs at the testing site, located at 676 South Broadway Street. The relief fund – which was created through a partnership between United Way of Summit County, the City of Akron, the County of Summit, Akron Public Schools, the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, Summit County Public Health and Job & Family Services – has raised more than $1.3 million in support of the local pandemic response.
“Public health experts have been clear – widespread testing will be essential to winning the fight against COVID-19. As Ohio proceeds through the reopening process, we must accelerate our efforts to protect our most vulnerable citizens and increase access to testing to those populations at highest risk of serious complications,” said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. “I want to thank Dr. Harte and the Cleveland Clinic Akron General leadership team for recognizing this and answering the call to provide testing in our city. I look forward to seeing access expanded even further in the near future.”
GOJO Industries, Inc., will contribute $25,000 for the testing site, which is located on the south side of downtown Akron near the company’s headquarters. Support from donors will help offset expenses associated with configuring and operating the testing location, including equipment, staffing and supplies.
“As a plan for county-wide access to testing evolves, Cleveland Clinic Akron General’s commitment to a testing site in the City of Akron is a critical and most welcome component of that plan,” said Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro. “Many thanks to Akron General, Summit County United Way and GOJO for this community partnership in furtherance of public health for all Summit County residents.”
United Way of Summit County will work with families and individuals at the testing site to provide referrals to supportive services across Summit County – from nutritional support to housing assistance and more.
“The pandemic has shined a spotlight on the need in our community, as well as the disparities that often exist between the support that’s available to different sectors of our community,” said Jim Mullen, President and CEO of United Way of Summit County. “United Way is committed to working with partners like Cleveland Clinic Akron General to make sure that help is available to anyone who needs it throughout this crisis.”
As with other Cleveland Clinic COVID-19 testing sites, Akron General will follow the Ohio Department of Health’s guidelines for who is eligible for a test. The state continues to emphasize testing of patients who are most severely ill, patients who are moderately ill with a high risk of complications – such as those who are elderly and those with serious medical issues – and individuals who are critical to providing care and service to those who are ill. Cleveland Clinic also offers testing for caregivers, first responders and patients with scheduled surgeries.
Last month, Akron General opened a testing site in Green, and is currently providing about 100 tests a day at that location. Cleveland Clinic’s first testing site opened in March at its main campus in Cleveland.