Prehospital Testing and Surveillance for SARS-CoV-2: A Special Report from the Sacramento (California USA) Mobile Integrated Health Unit

Angela F. Jarman, James S. Ford, Matthew J. Maynard, Zena L. Simmons, Kevin E. Mackey, Bryn E. Mumma, John S Rose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has killed nearly 800,000 Americans since early 2020. The disease has disproportionately affected older Americans, men, persons of color, and those living in congregate living facilities. Sacramento County (California USA) has used a novel Mobile Integrated Health Unit (MIH) to test hundreds of patients who dwell in congregate living facilities, including skilled nursing facilities (SNF), residential care facilities (ie, assisted living facilities [ALF] and board and care facilities [BCF]), and inpatient psychiatric facilities (PSY), for SARS-CoV-2. Methods: The MIH was authorized and rapidly created at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as a joint venture between the Sacramento County Department of Public Health (SCDPH) and several fire-based Emergency Medical Services (EMS) agencies within the county to perform SARS-CoV-2 testing and surveillance in a prehospital setting at a number of congregate living facilities. All adult patients (≥18 years) who were tested for SARS-CoV-2 infection by the MIH from March 31, 2020 through April 30, 2020 and lived in congregate living facilities were included in this retrospective descriptive cohort. Demographic and laboratory data were collected to describe the cohort of patients tested by the MIH. Results: During the study period, the MIH tested a total of 323 patients from 15 facilities in Sacramento County. The median age of patients tested was 66 years and the majority were female (72%). Overall, 72 patients (22%) tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in congregate living settings, a higher rate of positivity than was measured across the county during the same time period. Conclusion: The MIH was a novel method of epidemic surveillance that succeeded in delivering effective and efficient testing to patients who reside in congregate living facilities and was able to accurately identify pockets of infection within otherwise low prevalence areas. Cooperative prehospital models are an effective model to deliver out-of-hospital testing and disease surveillance that may serve as a blueprint for community-based care delivery for a number of disease states and future epidemics or pandemics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPrehospital and Disaster Medicine
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • congregate living
  • COVID-19
  • disease surveillance
  • health equity
  • mobile care delivery
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency


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