GARDEN CITY — On Tuesday, officials from Wayne County and Garden City Hospital gathered at a launch event for the Save-A-Life program. The program offers free drive-through COVID-19 antibody testing and facilitates plasma donations.
The one-of-a-kind program is intended to strengthen and increase the county’s response to COVID-19, especially in light of a possible second wave. The program tests patients for COVID-19 antibodies and then helps them through a plasma donation process in partnership with the American Red Cross.
The program began Tuesday and has seen on average 200 to 250 people a day come through to get tested. Studies have shown that giving hospitalized COVID-19 patients antibody-rich plasma is beneficial towards recovery.
Wayne County hopes to have an available stockpile of antibody-rich plasma in case of a second big wave of virus cases. At its peak, the pandemic quickly overwhelmed healthcare systems across the state earlier this year.
The program is free for Wayne County residents and employees. Those getting testing do not have to show signs and symptoms of the virus or have confirmation of recovery from it. No appointments are necessary for the free program, which is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“We’re really proud of the dip in COVID-19 cases in Wayne County,” Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said at the program’s launch event. “We’re optimistic, but we’re also sensible enough to know that as we reopen there will be a certain growth in cases and we will manage those.
“This is not something that comes once and goes away. The investment in testing (capabilities) is so that we can provide resources for Wayne County residents. At Garden City, we’re doing about 250 (antibody) tests, five days a week, and if the demand for that rises we’ll work on that.”
All Wayne County residents need is a form of identification at the testing site. After a positive antibody test, Garden City Hospital will provide necessary documentation for residents interested in donating plasma to the American Red Cross.
This administrative step, typically performed for an additional charge, is covered through the program, making it easier for donations to reach those in need of the plasma, which is said to effectively fight off the disease.
Garden City Hospital Board Chairman and The Arab American News Publisher Osama Siblani and Garden City Hospital CEO Saju George thanked Wayne County for the partnership.
“At this time, when the president of the United States wants us to slow down testing, we are increasing testing,” Siblani said. “Testing right now is key to the equation in fighting this disease.”
Officials, including Mayor Bill Wild from neighboring Westland, also took a tour of the Garden City Hospital, led by George and Siblani. Participants got to observe the machineries that Wayne County purchased for the program as well as recent updates to the hospital.
It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to run the test on one of the testing machines Wayne County has purchased under an operating agreement with Garden City Hospital. The entire collection and reporting process can take up to an hour.
Garden City Hospital is located at 6245 Inkster Rd. in Garden City.