Under a proposed code amendment, Vienna’s town manager would be authorized to approve temporary medical-testing facilities that will be operational during public-health emergencies, such as a pandemic.
The Vienna Town Council on Feb. 28 unanimously signaled its intention to adopt formally on March 21 the zoning-text amendment, which was drafted by Council member Charles Anderson and modified by the town’s staff and Planning Commission.
The amendment allow such temporary facilities to operate at sites that already have conditional-use permits for churches or other places of worship, non-commercial schools (private, elementary and high) and colleges, and public buildings and uses.
A temporary, drive-through COVID-testing site has been in operation during the past year on Maple Avenue, E., and was allowed via an emergency ordinance that expired Dec. 31, 2021.
Town staff recommended that the new amendment stipulate that the temporary medical facilities be licensed and allowed to operate after a local, state or federal governmental agency has declared a public-health emergency.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regulates testing via Clinical Laboratory Improvements Amendments (CLIA) and allows some sites to operate with CLIA certificates of waiver, town officials said.
Under the proposed measure, the town manager could set terms of the facilities’ operations, including dates and hours of operation and the form of accepting appointments.
“It is a discretionary call on the part of the town manager,” Anderson said. “Applicants must be qualified and certified and there must be a need” for such facilities.
“I would work with town attorney to begin the process and after that check with county health department,” said Town Manager Mercury Payton. “If the group that wants to provide the services matches the needs laid out by the public crisis, I would check on required licensing.”
Payton said town officials would be “very careful” regarding services already provided, in order to avoid duplication of efforts, unless a crisis were of sufficient size to warrant it.