HOMETOWN HEROES: Sayre Health Center workers offer barrier-free testing to community

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- This week, our Hometown Hero is a team, the team at the Sayre Health Center in the Cobbs Creek section of Philadelphia.

"Are you having any symptoms today?" a worker at the Sayre Health Center asks a patient.

This team has asked this same question to 200 different people in just one day. In the past 6 months, that number adds up to about 16,000.

From the high school parking lot in Cobbs Creek, Sayre Health Center is doing what it can to contain the spread of COVID-19 with barrier-free testing. The center, which partners with Penn Medicine, launched in May.

"It doesn't require any referral or a physician note, you can just come through, register, and get tested on site, "said Ashwin Gupta, a physician assistant at the site.

That's important for this neighborhood where access to health care hasn't always been readily available. The team at Sayre is trying to change that.

"You really feel cared for and known here and that's just a testament to our team and that helps bring in more people," said Rachel Spruill, a social health provider for the center.

With the change of the season, they're offering flu shots, too.

"People are noticing more symptoms and I think the best part is to get tested frequently, maybe once a month," said Gupta.

The patients at this site aren't only being tested for COVID-19, they're being screened for anxiety and depression, too. Doctors say as a community health center, they want to be looking out for the mental health of the neighborhood as well.

She says long after the pandemic is gone, she hopes the people will keep coming back to Sayre as they try to build a healthier neighborhood.

"I just felt really grateful and really inspired by the community," Sruill said.
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