Ascension Medical Group Sacred Heart is closing its drive-through COVID-19 testing centers after April 1 due to decreased demand for testing and lower rates of COVID-19 in the community. Additionally, Santa Rosa County has announced closure of county-sponsored testing sites at Milton Community Center and Tiger Point Community Center, beginning April 2.
“While the demand for testing has been dropping as cases of COVID-19 have decreased in our area, we have a greater need to dedicate more resources right now to our vaccination sites,” said Justin Labrato, chief operating officer of Ascension Medical Group Sacred Heart.
Ascension Sacred Heart will continue to provide COVID-19 testing at its Urgent Care Centers in Pensacola and Pace, while shifting some of its mobile testing site staff to join Ascension Sacred Heart’s expanded COVID-19 vaccination centers in Pensacola and Milton.
The Urgent Care Center on Highway 29 in Pensacola and the Urgent Care Center on Highway 90 in Pace are open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (The Urgent Care Centers will reduce their hours on Easter Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
Labrato said Ascension Sacred Heart will be ready to ramp up drive-through testing again if there is another large spike of the coronavirus in the community.
The healthcare system was one of the first in Florida to open a drive-through testing center when the first cases of COVID-19 arrived in the area in March 2020. Since then, Ascension Sacred Heart has conducted nasal swab tests on more than 75,500 people, with more than 12,000 of those confirmed to have the virus.
At the peak of the COVID-19 surge in Pensacola in December and January, Ascension Sacred Heart’s three drive-through centers in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties were testing 400-500 people each day. In the past two weeks, that number has dropped to about 100 per day.
“With the expansion of vaccinations to anyone in Florida over the age of 18 starting on April 5, we felt we had to focus our staffing resources where they are needed most — and that is our vaccination centers,” Labrato said.
In Pensacola, Ascension Sacred Heart will hold vaccination clinics for Florida residents 18 and older at Olive Baptist Church on April 5, April 8, April 10, April 16, April 17, and April 19.
Ascension Sacred Heart also will hold 11 vaccination clinics in Milton at the old Bealls store in Parkmore Plaza, 6275 Highway 90. The Milton location will offer the Pfizer vaccine to any Florida resident 18 and older on April 6, April 10, April 12, April 13, April 16, April 17, April 20, April 22, and April 23.
Vaccination appointments are required and can be scheduled online at www.GetSacredHeartCare.com.
Eligible Florida residents may also register by calling ShareCare, toll-free at 866-201-7110 or visiting myvaccine.fl.gov. The TTY number for the deaf and hard of hearing is 833-476-1035. Appointments are available as early as same day.