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Drive-through Lab Providing Rare Service

Door County Medical Center (DCMC) opened its drive-through laboratory facility early last month, providing a service in Door County that’s duplicated at only one other medical center in Wisconsin.

“It’s a pretty new concept,” said Jane Metko, DCMC’s director of laboratory services. “I think we weren’t thinking about that level of convenience until we were forced to with COVID.”

The lab is located at the entrance to DCMC’s Sturgeon Bay campus, 319 S. 18th Ave., in the same building that has provided COVID-19 tests since the spring of 2020. There, patients ages 10 and older can get their blood drawn, pick up a urine-collection test kit and then drop it back off, get tested for COVID-19, and receive vaccinations for the flu, COVID-19 and boosters.

The dark skies would open to a downpour on the early-October day when these photos were taken, but that had no impact on this patient, who never needed to leave his car to have lab work done. Photo by Rachel Lukas.

“The patients who have been going through have been very impressed and pleasantly surprised how easy and fast it is,” Metko said. “Five minutes from start to finish.”

There are no extra fees to use the drive-through rather than the hospital lab, and the two-lane space takes two vehicles at once. Hospital staff members draw blood and administer vaccinations without patients having to leave their vehicle – or leave the dog or kids at home.

“Parents who need blood drawn and have children with them have been some of our most pleased customers,” Metko said.

She said the service evolved from discussions about how best to shift COVID-19 testing back into the hospital once the worst of the pandemic had eased, but staff learned that patients still didn’t feel comfortable sitting inside the hospital lab’s waiting area. Therefore, they decided to keep the testing outside and add a few other services to make the best use of staff time.

“We found patients really liked not having to come into the building,” Metko said. “There were a lot of wins for patients.” 

The one drawback discovered during a test run of a child lab was that parents thought it was strange getting blood drawn in the industrial-feeling space that used to be an ambulance garage. That feedback prompted the hospital to renovate the space. 

“Our main focus was making it a warm environment for our staff and a clean aesthetic for our patients,” Metko said. 

DCMC staff members complete, on average, 100 blood draws a day. In the future, they’re hoping the majority of those appointments will be made for the drive-through lab rather than the hospital lab.

With only one other such lab in Wisconsin – that one on the western side of the state – Metko said that administrators at other medical facilities are already asking for a tour of the DCMC facility.

“I believe it will end up being a template for labs to come,” she said.

The drive-through lab is available Monday-Friday, 6 am – 2 pm, and Saturday, 7-11 am. Appointments are necessary, so schedule them through the patient’s portal or by calling 920.743.5566.

The new drive-through lab is located at the entrance to the Door County Medical Center’s Sturgeon Bay campus, 319 S. 18th Ave. Photo by Rachel Lukas.

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