Orcas Family Health Center (OFHC) delivered an early Christmas present to the Orcas community, launching a mobile SARS-COVID-19 testing project on December 21st.

Recognizing the impact COVID-19 testing was having on staff at both the OFHC and UW Orcas Clinics, leadership at OFHC sought to put funds received as part of the CARES Act to use in supporting expanded testing for the community. Securing the funding was only the first step. Launching an effort of this magnitude required some innovative thinking and support from various organizations. While health care employees in other rural areas are struggling to gain support from within their communities, we are fortunate to have an incredibly supportive community here on Orcas.

As the weather threatened to put a damper (literally) on the launch, the OFHC testing team was determined to proceed with the first test site the morning of December 21st. Along with a team of volunteers who generously dedicated their time and energy, the set-up began very early so testing was ready to go at 8 am at the Orcas Island Artworks parking lot in Olga. The volume of the first clinic exceeded expectations, and the second clinic in West Sound saw even more islanders. All in all, over the first three events the mobile clinic tested 90 islanders and family members.

The OIHCD would like to express our appreciation to everyone involved in the in-clinic and mobile clinic testing efforts. We have been fortunate to have the support of UW Orcas Clinic and OFHC, both of whom have been conducting testing in the clinics for many months. A very special thank you to Aaimee Johnson and Shila Wachtel for coming up with the idea and putting the mobile clinic project together so testing efforts could be expanded. Many thanks to Catkin Cafe, Orcas Island Artworks, the Orcas Island Yacht Club, the West Sound Community Club, and the Orcas Senior Center for allowing OFHC staff to set up testing sites on your properties. We also recognize this takes a village and couldn’t have come together so flawlessly without the help of a few special volunteers. A BIG thank you to Alan Stameisen and Robin Lassen.

Testing will continue over the next few months on a rotating basis and will remain limited to Orcas Island residents, full or part time, and their family members. No appointments are required and testing days may be cancelled last minute due to weather (e.g.. high winds, heavy rains, dangerous road conditions). Testing takes place on Monday’s in Olga from 8:00 am to 10:00 am, Thursdays in Eastsound from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, and Sunday’s in West Sound from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm.

As we look towards the New Year let us all be grateful for the dedication of all of our health care workers, EMS and others involved in supporting the wellbeing of the Orcas Community.

Wishing everyone a very safe and healthy 2021.