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Dublin: 17 °C Friday 3 July, 2020

Writer Stefanie Preissner describes experience of using Croke Park drive-thru Covid-19 testing facility

Preissner said she was referred for testing by her doctor after she called her GP about a cough and breathlessness.

Stephanie Preissner described her experience of the Croke Park testing centre today.
Stephanie Preissner described her experience of the Croke Park testing centre today.
Image: graphy: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

WRITER STEFANIE PREISSNER has described her experience of using the Croke Park drive-thru Covid-19 testing centre.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Drivetime radio programme, she said she wanted to reassure people by describing what happens when you arrive at the facility. 

Preissner said she was referred for testing by her doctor after she called her GP about a cough and breathlessness. While she said these symptoms are an annual occurrence for her, as she has asthma, her doctor questioned if she had recently travelled. 

Preissner said she had recently returned from London, and her doctor said she would be happier if she referred her for testing.

The HSE called the writer this morning with an appointment for 12pm. This was followed by a text message with instructions about where to go and what to do.

“I was the first round of people in,” she said, stating that only people who have a GP referral can drive up to the centre at Croke Park.

Like driving on to a ferry 

She said the medics, who are wearing masks, ask for your details through the car window, your name is ticked off and you proceed into a car park, describing it as like driving on to a ferry.

You are handed a surgical mask and A4 instruction sheet as to what is going to happen, said Preissner, She said the instruction sheet explains that a swab of the nose and throat will be taken and no photography is permitted.

“It is very clear and specific,” she said, adding that once every car has been given an instruction sheet, the row of cars “proceed into a convoy into Croke Park”.

There are eight bays and each bay has two medical staff wearing full gowns, masks and gloves.

Preissner said it is “sort of like driving onto a ferry” and is a “little intimidating”. She said the medical staff are very calm.

While she said it appears intimidating it is a “very easy process for people to go through”.

She was told that her test results would take three to five days to be returned, and she will have to self isolate until she gets the results. 

The medics in the bays talk each person through what is going to happen, stating that the patient will not be contacted directly, but the result will be passed onto their GP. If referred to the testing facility by the HSE, the results will be given to them.

Preissner said a six-page document is given to each person as they leave, explaining what has happened and what is going to happen next.

The letter explains how to keep well, and who it is not a person’s fault that the got the virus.

Croke Park is just one of over 30 sites earmarked by the HSE as an area to test for Covid-19, as expected cases of the virus could reach 15,000 within the coming weeks.

Another site being used is the Lucan Sarsfields GAA club in west Dublin. Health Minister Simon Harris said 19 of the 30 centres are already open, with all centres due to be open by the end of the week. 

The minister said today that the intention is largely to try and use public buildings where impossible.

Smaller primary care centres, healthcare facilities, and even Garda stations are set to be used, with Harris mentioning that testing is being carried out in Lahinch Garda station.

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