Norwegian American Hospital
Country: United States
Community-Wide Drive-Through COVID-19 Testing by a Small Community Hospital in the Hardest-Hit Neighborhoods in Chicago
Norwegian American Hospital (NAH) is a small independent community hospital serving a low-income, predominantly Latino and Black population on the west side of Chicago, Illinois. During Chicago’s initial COVID-19 wave, these communities saw a disproportionate number of cases and deaths compared with other neighborhoods – as much as three times as many cases per 100,000 as Chicago overall at the height of disease spread.
In April, local data showed a steep increase in cases. This led hospital leadership to immediately prioritize launching community drive-through testing for community members with mild, moderate, or no symptoms. Despite no financial assistance from the US government for testing, NAH’s leadership felt an obligation to provide its high-risk population with accessible testing.
NAH’s new drive-through testing program was met with an immediate and overwhelming community response. As of September, over 8,200 total tests had been conducted, and NAH now averages more than 450 tests per week. This includes both tests by appointment as well as walk-up, first-come first-serve testing. Even as Chicago’s west side has come down from its peak positivity rates, test positivity at NAH’s testing tent remains three to four times as high as the state average, demonstrating the continued need for this above-and-beyond community service. NAH’s testing has been lauded by many stakeholders, from community members and local leaders, to the Governor of Illinois and Mayor of Chicago, to major national healthcare organizations.