COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A new community drive-thru COVID-19 testing site in central Ohio is now accepting appointments.

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center moved its testing operation into the parking garage at CAS on Olentangy River Road on Monday. The move came in response to the latest COVID-19 surge and skyrocketing demand for testing.

“Within about a week’s time, we’ve put this together, in conjunction with both the staff here at CAS, our facilities staff, our information technology staff, to move, really, a pretty complex operation,” said Dr. Andrew Thomas, the chief medical officer at the Wexner Medical Center.

The change happened after COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations reached record levels in late December.

Thomas said getting tested is crucial for controlling the spread of the virus.

“The last thing we want people to do is to think they have a little runny nose because it’s cold outside, or their house is dusty, or whatever it is… and miss the fact that they have COVID and then be potentially spreading that in the community,” he said.

The Wexner clinical team will lead the testing at CAS, with help from 10 members from the Ohio National Guard. The group is among hundreds of guard members mobilized by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to help overwhelmed hospitals.

“We have the National Guard helping staff our hospitals because our own employees live in our communities. And if they’re catching this or they’re out sick or they’re exposed, it’s an issue,” Thomas said, adding other guard members are assisting the hospital with non-clinical duties, such as supply stocking, patient transportation, and food services.

He explained the hospital system decided to move its testing site from 650 Ackerman Road to the CAS campus to accommodate the changing weather and growing demand for tests.

“It’s actually a wonderful facility from a weather protection perspective. And we think as a drive-thru flow, we can just get more people through,” he said.

The clinic scheduled 250 appointments for testing Monday. As the facility becomes fully operational, it may be able to accommodate up to 1,000 people per day.

“We plan, in the next week, to be able to ramp up to about three or four times the amount of capacity we had at our old site,” Thomas said. “We can certainly do things like expand hours. And we have a little bit of geography here so we can expand as well.”

Appointments are required at the new testing site. They will take place between 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. – noon on Saturdays.

The PCR swab tests are processed by Wexner. Thomas said results may be available in as little as 12 hours, depending on the volume of tests in the lab.

If you have an account, you can self-schedule an appointment through MyChart.

If you do not have MyChart, or wish to schedule a test at another Ohio State Wexner Medical Center testing site, call your Ohio State health care provider or the COVID Call Center at 614-293-4000 to make an appointment.