coronavirus

For Those Who Can Pay, Coronavirus Tests Can Be Easy Access

Dr. Gordon admits that people with money often have better access to testing and treatment.

NBCUniversal

Most people in Southern California who want a coronavirus test still can't get one. But a select few, willing to pay cash, have been offered home tests kits from upscale medical practices.

Santa Monica pediatrician Dr. Jay Gordon emailed his patients offering kits for $250 to test "family and household staff" using a swab on "the inside of your cheeks and the roof of your mouth."

Gordon told the I-Team his practice sold all 100 test kits quickly. "The response was very unexpected," Gordon said.

What was also unexpected to the doctor was the backlash he's received from selling tests that even hospital and emergency medical workers on the front lines can't always get.

"I thought I was doing a service to my patients. I did not think the reaction would be negative," Dr. Gordon told the I-Team.

Dr. Gordon admits that people with money often have better access to testing and treatment.

"Yes, it's extremely unfair. It's just representative of the inequities in our healthcare system," Gordon told NBC4.

Gordon and other doctors bought the test kits from Korva Labs in San Dimas, which is now making and processing 1,000 coronavirus test kits a day and, by next week, hopes to process 10,000 a day.

The medical director of Korva Labs, Dr. Jeffrey Klausner of UCLA's School of Public Health, says those  coronavirus test kits should be given first to the people who need them most.

"Right now, we have to prioritize testing for people who are sick, people who are hospitalized with pneumonia...first responders, EMS, our fire department, our police department, people in emergency rooms," Klausner told NBC4.

But when Gordon gets another 100 test kits in the next day or two, he will once again sell them to his patients, who don't necessarily fall into those priority categories. 

"I'm very concerned about being vilified, but there's nothing I can do about it," Gordon said.

Monday, the doctor decided there is something he can do about it. Gordon texted the I-Team a receipt, showing he donated the profits from his sales of the test kits--$10,220--to the non-profit "Save The Children."

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