How one elite New York medical provider got its patients coronavirus
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[March 20, 2020]
By Anna Irrera and Koh Gui Qing
NEW YORK (Reuters) - As U.S. authorities
scrambled to ramp up the nation's capacity to test for coronavirus last
week, at least 100 executives and other New Yorkers of means had easy
access to testing, according to two sources familiar with the activities
of a little-known medical service catering to the affluent.
These people paid a $5,000-a-year membership fee for a medical concierge
service in New York City called Sollis Health, which worked with Enzo
Clinical Labs Inc to test its members for COVID-19, according to the
The arrangement gave members, which include people in finance,
entertainment, advertising and media industries, access to the tests at
home at a time New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state had the
capacity to test just a few hundred patients a day. The two sources
declined to provide the identities of the people the company tested for
coronavirus and Reuters could not establish them.
The demand for the coronavirus testing services provided by Sollis
underscores the lack of preparedness of public health institutions. The
access it provided its members is the latest example of how well-to-do
people got coronavirus tests at a time of scarcity.
Sollis is part of a lucrative cottage industry, where membership costs
can run into tens of thousands of dollars a year for services such as
special access to doctors and private emergency rooms. These companies
have found a niche in wealthy cities like New York and San Francisco as
the rich seek access to better healthcare. Reuters was unable to
ascertain if other medical concierge services also were offering
The company triaged requests and only tested patients who showed
symptoms that warranted further inquiry, in line with New York health
department guidelines, one source said.
In the past few days questions have swirled on Twitter about how some
celebrities, sports teams and bankers managed to get the tests when they
were hard to come by.
"Clearly there is access beyond what most Americans are seeing is
available," said Dr. Jake Deutsch, a clinical director of New York-based
Cure Urgent Care, commenting on the broader lack of testing. "Hopefully
we will get mass testing soon, it shouldn't be based on your class or
any other factor other than symptoms."
Deutsch’s New York-based practice started testing patients on Saturday
and offers walk-ins for people of different socioeconomic backgrounds,
including individuals with Medicare, he said.
[to top of second column]
People walk through a nearly empty Times Square, during the outbreak
of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, U.S., March 19,
2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/
One of those tested by Deutsch's practice was social media
influencer Arielle Charnas, who posted about her results on
Instagram. Deutsch said Charnas, a friend, was sick and did not get
special treatment. Charnas did not respond to a request for a
So far, at least 10,990 cases of the novel coronavirus have been
reported in the United States and 95 people have died from the
COVID-19 disease, according to a Reuters tally of state and local
government websites on Tuesday afternoon.
For a graphic, click https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T
HEALTHCARE FOR THE ELITE
Sollis Health has locations in the Upper East Side and Tribeca
neighborhoods of Manhattan. "At the ER, you'll wait 5 hours. Our
doctors can handle most medical issues immediately," it says on its
website. "It can take weeks to see the best specialists. We get you
in right away."
The company started to get inquiries about testing for coronavirus
around the end of February, as cases began to spread in Italy, the
person familiar with the matter said. Some of its members had
traveled to areas affected and wanted to get tested, the person
Its physicians contacted the New York Department of Health for
coronavirus tests. They were able to perform several, but found the
availability of tests was limited, the person said. They also used
swabs to run tests for other types of respiratory diseases, which if
diagnosed, could help reduce the likelihood of the member also
having COVID-19, this person said.
The New York health department did not respond to a request for
comment on its dealings with Sollis.
On March 6, Enzo Biochem Inc <ENZ.N> said it will begin accepting
specimens for COVID-19 testing at its lab from the following week.
Enzo, which already does work for Sollis Health, told the company it
could do the tests for its members, the source said.
(Reporting by Anna Irrera and Koh Gui Qing. Editing by Paritosh
Bansal and Edward Tobin)
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