Camps Among Businesses to Benefit from WMCHC COVID Testing Grant
(Honesdale, March 24, 2021)…Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers (WMCHC) is using part of a state grant to offer rapid antigen testing for COVID-19 to area businesses, including members of the Wayne County Camp Alliance, which counts 34 camps among its membership. Trails End/Chestnut Lake Camps Director Marc Honigfeld said he’s hopeful the state of Pennsylvania will endorse camps fully reopening soon, and most camps are preparing to safely welcome campers this summer.
“We have been working extremely hard to ensure the safety of our campers and staff,” said Honigfeld, “rigorous testing is a major part of our strategy to maintain a controlled environment and keep COVID-19 out of our camps this summer.”
WMCHC has set aside $100,000 out of a $900,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers, which is funded by the Commonwealth, to help camps administer rapid antigen tests to individuals who are symptomatic.
“Antigen testing, which is done with a swab, indicates whether a person is currently infected by detecting antigens, which are fragments of the COVID virus,” explains Sibyl Rickard, MD, medical director of Wayne Memorial Hospital’s Anatomic and Clinical Laboratories. If the test results are negative, they will be confirmed by a molecular or PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test performed “stat” or immediately by Wayne Memorial Hospital. A PCR test is highly accurate and can pick up even the slightest traces of virus in the body.
Honigfeld noted that an individual whose antigen test is positive will be asked to isolate, seek further medical care, or, perhaps in the case of a camper, may return to their home for the quarantine period.
He called the WMCHC gesture “a great example of our two-way partnership that exists and goes a long way towards helping camps stay in business after a tough 2020. We are so grateful for the generosity shown by WMCHC during this trying time.”
Frederick Jackson, executive director of WMCHC said his organization was happy to support area camps and other small businesses. “We understand that helping our economy recover means staying on top of COVID-19,” said Jackson. “Testing is key, and we are glad we can provide this tool in our community.” He added that WMCHC is offering similar grant-funded testing to other businesses, largely through its Lake Region Urgent Care Occupational Medicine office at 273 Grandview Avenue, Honesdale.
Honigfeld explained that in addition to the antigen tests for symptomatic individuals, many camps will also use PCR testing (non-stat) for general camp population surveillance. His own camps’ protocols will include requiring a COVID PCR test no more than 72 hours prior to the campers and staff arriving at the camp, then again on arrival day and then a third time on the sixth day at camp. He expects this testing program to continue weekly throughout the summer and it will be offered to families of local staff members as well.
Masks and small group cohorts will also be mandated, said Honigfeld, for everyone until “medical experts such as epidemiologists and pediatric infectious-disease physicians say it’s not necessary.
“It is very much our goal to make sure our campers and staff are not only physically safe but to also help improve their mental well-being by providing an experience where they can enjoy the carefree days of summer and hopefully regain some of the things that have been missing from their lives over the past year. We want to focus on possibilities, not limits, and feel that testing will be critical to our success.”
Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers is a federally qualified health center with a network of physician offices throughout Wayne and Pike Counties, the Greater Carbondale Region of Lackawanna County and Forest City in eastern Susquehanna County. For more information, visit www.wmchc.net.
Photo: Frederick Jackson, left, executive director Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers and Marc Honigfeld, director Trails End/Chestnut Lake Camps talk about COVID testing outside a Health Centers’ pediatric practice in Honesdale.