A Texas teen took it upon himself to solve one of the major issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic — access to testing. Taft Foley III is an 18-year-old high school senior in Houston and the state’s youngest EMT. He decided to launch his own mobile testing lab, Texas Mobile Medical Labs.
Back in July, Foley took an EMT course in Corpus Christi. Because he had been exposed to COVID-19 patients during the course, he was required to take a COVID-19 test. He waited over two hours just to get inside the testing facility. The frustrating experience inspired the creation of Texas Mobile Medical Labs.
“I thought to myself, ‘There had to be a better way,'” Foley told NBC Nightly News.
According to The Kinkaid Falcon, he held fundraisers, sold his furniture and game consoles, and asked his family members for donations. With all the help combined, he raised $60,000 to buy the van and some of the equipment needed to get his mobile testing lab going.
Testing Goes Mobile
The mobile lab performs rapid antigen tests with nasal swabbing, which allows results to be given through text or email within 15 minutes. In partnership with Baylor Genetics Laboratories, the lab also runs PCR tests that get results within 24 to 48 hours. While the company doesn’t accept insurance, patients can submit claims to their insurance company to get full or partial reimbursement on the tests, which cost $100 to $150.
Foley’s lab currently operates in a van and tent based outside of a community center in the Post Oak area. When needed, the van takes the lab to any patient or business location with an appointment.
Through the mobile lab, Foley and his team have served around 500 individuals and businesses in the Houston area. With the revenue made from tests, the lab also offers free testing for veterans, senior citizens, and the homeless population in Houston.
“It’s very easy to look at another person’s life and not care because it doesn’t pertain to them,” Foley told NBC Nightly News. “I’m not one of those people. There needs to be more people that are willing to help others without expecting anything in return.”
A Note About COVID Testing
As reported, not all tests for COVID-19 are created equal. A PCR test is very sensitive, but more invasive, and requires anywhere from one to four days to receive results from a lab. Its sensitivity means that there’s far less chance of a false-negative result, but a positive result might not necessarily mean contagion.
A rapid antigen test is less invasive and offers “rapid” results; however, it’s far less sensitive. In a recent Harvard Health blog article, rapid tests were found to have a large percentage of false negatives.