COVID-19 test site in Santa Fe not approved by Department of Health | Local news - Market News
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COVID-19 test site in Santa Fe not approved by Department of Health | Local news

COVID-19 test site in Santa Fe not approved by Department of Health |  Local news

After Santa Fe behaviorist Isaiah Sorrell was notified that a client’s parent had tested positive for COVID-19, he searched for the closest location to get his own test and found a pop-up location in Sprouts’ parking lot. the south side.

But unlike other COVID-19 testing sites in the city, this one has not been approved by the New Mexico Department of Health. It is run by a company facing a slew of complaints and investigations alleging shady business practices and long wait times for results. Others have reported paying for accelerated test results that never came.

“I don’t think it should be allowed to continue if it’s true,” Sorrell said as he queued at the site on Thursday to register. “There are a lot of people who need these tests.”

The company that operates the site, Center for COVID Control, has generated “numerous complaints both locally and from across the country,” according to the website of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago & Northern Illinois.

According to the agency, which gives the company an F rating, the complaints related to a range of issues, including poor customer service and requests for personal information such as driver’s license details.

The Oregon Department of Justice and other government agencies have since launched an investigation into the company. Other cities have closed test centers because they operate without a business license.

Dave Herndon, spokesman for the City of Santa Fe, wrote in an email that the site is not associated with the city and said the state attorney general’s office is investigating the complaints.

Jerri Mares, director of communications and legislative affairs for the attorney general’s office, wrote in an email that the office is reviewing complaints received to determine the best course of action.

Representatives from the New Mexico Department of Health did not respond to emails about the testing sites.

The company, based in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, claims on its website to have more than 300 test sites across the country, including the Santa Fe site and one in Albuquerque. The company was founded in December 2020 and lists Aleya Siyaj as its founder and CEO, according to the Illinois Secretary of State’s website.

In response to the complaints, the company said in a press release on Thursday that it would suspend testing at its nationwide locations from Friday to January 22. In its release, it blamed the complaints on staffing issues amid a wave of testing.

“Center for COVID Control is committed to serving our patients in the safest, most accurate and most compliant manner,” Siyaj said in a statement. “Unfortunately, our rapid growth and unprecedented recent demand for testing have prevented us from meeting all of our commitments.”

But according to USA today, which received an internal memo to company employees, the hiatus is due in part to increased media scrutiny.

“While many of the allegations against us are exaggerated, there are certainly areas that we need to improve. We need to ensure that our sites are compliant, that our staff is properly trained and most importantly, we need to ensure that we perform every test accurately and report,” the memo said. USA today.

The company’s Twitter account has been suspended.

Its website states that the company offers free workplace testing and testing, but when customers register online, they are asked to provide personal information such as driver’s license information, a photo, and their health insurance provider.

The company says in its press release that it uses the independent Doctors Clinical Laboratory — test cards on the Santa Fe site showed the logo in the top left corner — as a clinical testing partner. The lab is registered with the US Food and Drug Administration; the address listed is the same as that of the Center for COVID Control.

The company also says it has conducted up to 80,000 tests per day and more than

At the company’s Santa Fe testing site, in a mobile office on the corner of Cerrillos Road and Zafarano Drive, a large red-white-blue poster advertised “Free COVID-19 Tests.” It says at the bottom of the ad that no insurance information is required.

On Thursday in the office, a man dressed in scrubs handed clients test materials and an information card with a QR code that they could use to scan and record their information. The man said the site has been open for two to three months.

The customers were then sent back to their vehicles to take the test themselves. Then they put the swabs back in the same disposable container they came from before coming into a separate row to submit the samples.

After being made aware of the allegations, Santa Fe’s Virgil Vigil, who was waiting in line to return his results, said he was willing to complete the process because he needed the test results for his job.

Still, Vigil said his main concerns were the way the samples were handled and the legitimacy of the results.

Sorrell had similar concerns. While conducting the test in his car, he criticized the way the samples were stored.

“It should be in some sort of sealed container,” he said, “but like I said, I had to get tested.”

Santa Fe store clerk Dulce Merino lined up to sign up for a test on Thursday morning after waking up with COVID-19 symptoms, but after being made aware of the allegations, she chose to to find another site.

“It’s a bit concerning,” she said before leaving. “Especially with how many people are standing in line here.”

On Thursday, about 45 people were waiting in line. Among them was Rick Volden from

Santa Fe, who said he waited in line for about 2½ hours before turning in his test.

Volden said he overheard a conversation about the allegations and became skeptical when he saw that the site was not on the Department of Health’s list of approved testing sites.

He said he was told about the site when he called local hospitals to inquire about testing sites.