This article has been updated.
When Cameron Davies could not find a COVID-19 testing site early in the coronavirus pandemic for one of the boxing athletes he manages, Davies, a local entrepreneur with various ventures on his resume, saw yet another business opportunity: mobile clinical testing.
As the founder and owner of San Antonio-based Cruising Kitchens, one of the largest custom food truck builders and providers in the nation, Davies said he could see the writing on the wall. In anticipation of a downturn in manufacturing, Davies bought as many trailers in as many sizes as he could. Davies used his knowledge of building out food trucks and other mobile businesses to fabricate Davies MedClinic trucks and trailers.
With more than 45 units of various sizes being converted into portable testing sites, Davies MedClinic is up and running in cities in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Currently, there are 14 Davies MedClinic testing sites deployed in San Antonio, Chief Business Officer Patrick Dudley said.
Dudley said he and Davies are two of four MedClinic partners – with each bringing a specilized background to the enterprise. Dudley’s staffing business allowed them to find medical personal to work the mobile clinics. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Scott Campbell oversees the acquisition and administering of COVID-19 and flu tests, while the tech know-how of his brother Fraser Campbell was key to the creation of a mobile app for clinic customers, Dudley said.
Currently Davies MedClinic is focused mostly on working with businesses and corporations looking to get a fast turnaround on mass testing, Dudley said, and many businesses have utilized their business, Davies added.
“We want to be that company that helps people get back to work,” Davies said.
The portable clinics offer several different testing options, including rapid antigen, PCR, and antibody tests for COVID-19 and a hybrid that tests for flu as well as COVID-19, Scott Campbell said. Each test is $125, which is advertised on the outside of each trailer, built out with medical-grade steel inside. The $125 includes a flu and COVID-19 test, Dudley said.
Davies said he has friends who were charged more than $200 for testing after waiting hours in line, and then they had to wait days to get results. Davies MedClinic promises results that appear in its app within 15 minutes.
Scott Campbell said he and the other partners wanted to keep the price on the lower side so more people could utilize their services. Davies MedClinics do not currently accept insurance, Dudley said, but he said clients can file their testing receipts with their insurer for reimbursement.
“We’re not out to gouge people, we’re trying to do a service,” Scott Campbell said.
Compared to clinics in and around San Antonio however, Davies’ $125-per-COVID-19-test falls more in the middle of the price spectrum.
Whereas the City of San Antonio offers free COVID-19 testing and lists more than 15 local locations that do as well, some San Antonians paying out of pocket have spent $200 or more through a private entity.
San Antonio resident Katherine Smith said she was shocked to receive a $250 bill at the end of a visit to a Quality Urgent Care. According to a representative from Quality Urgent Care, the out-of-pocket cost is $140 to $225 for a COVID-19 test at one of the urgent care’s five local clinics. Another San Antonio resident, Will Hancock, said he and his wife chose to go to one of the free sites after their research found several of the local drive-thru options cost $150 per test or more.
“[My husband] got one at a drive-thru at Alzafar Shrine [Temple] about five months ago,” said San Antonio resident Leslye Hernandez. “They refused to take our insurance and it was $169. It took us five months to get reimbursed from our insurance because they wouldn’t give them [medical diagnosis] codes.”
“Our original idea was when there’s a hotspot, to go in and mass test there, go in with 20 trailers there,” Scott Campbell said. “We’re hoping to get a contract with a government entity to be able to serve more of the underserved neighborhoods.”
In the near future, Dudley said the four partners would like to be able to deploy a unit or two to the underserved areas of the San Antonio community. Dudley said their company is in the very early stages of talking with government entities to make this possible.
“We’re set up perfectly for that,” he said. “We can come in and out easily.”
Clarification: Davies MedClinic charges $125 total for both a flu test and a Covid-19 test.