At a community health center, doctors offer COVID testing—and screening for depression

Cars crowded along 59th Street and wrapped around the block on the first day that Sayre Health Center opened its COVID drive/walk-through testing site in the Cobbs Creek section of West Philadelphia. 

Health care worker stands outside wearing a mask addressing several people in the community who are also wearing a mask and social distancing.

Despite the long line, Sayre Medical Director Kent Bream, greeted each of the 121 men, women, and children patiently, with a joke and a laugh. The patients cracked a smile in return. They seemed to share a common emotion: relief.

Each person was not only tested for COVID-19, but also screened for anxiety and depression. The services tapped into a need that had been hard to come by as the outbreak spread across Philadelphia the past two months.

“It’s a really empowering thing to have access to care. Whether the result of the test is positive or negative, having access is an intervention in itself,” says Bream, who is also an associate professor of clinical family medicine and community health in the Perelman School of Medicine. “On our very first day, our patients were telling us, ‘We needed this.’”

Though COVID-19 affects people from all backgrounds, the pandemic has also highlighted profound racial and socioeconomic inequities in health care. In Philadelphia, more than half of coronavirus deaths are among African Americans, even though they make up 40 percent of the city’s population. African Americans are dying at a rate more than 30 percent higher than white patients, according to city data.

This story is by Lauren Ingeno. Read more at Penn Medicine News.