From the Frontlines: Managing COVID-19 in Florida

“From the Frontlines” is a series where we highlight the experiences of individuals on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each interview highlights the successes and challenges of addressing the pandemic in a specific geography.

Ray Plasterer is the general manager overseeing Curative’s testing, antibody detection, and vaccine distribution efforts in Florida.

What was the biggest challenge(s) you faced when you began providing testing in Florida?

As with all things COVID, you need to be prepared for unexpected and rapid changes. As we work to provide as many opportunities and venues possible for COVID and antibody testing, and vaccine rollouts, we’ve had to quickly adapt to new guidance from state and federal officials. For example, we received a 48 hour notice before needing to launch 21 antigen sites, which required hiring and training 50 nurses. This challenge seemed insurmountable, but we were determined to do everything we could to make it a reality. Curative is a company designed to meet changing needs, and we immediately got to work to see how we could open these sites within the 48 hour timeframe.

An inside look into Curative’s lab

What are the solutions Curative has created to overcome these challenges?

Through a great cooperation with our HR team, we were able to successfully launch every one of those 21 sites. The most important thing I’ve learned is that communicating — with HR, employees, and government officials around expectations, is key to ensuring a successful hiring process.

Curative meets with the CDC director in Tallahassee

What is a memorable moment from witnessing over 4.1 million tests in Florida?

Seeing Curative’s evolution in Florida has been heartwarming and inspiring. We started with a nursing home contract and have now expanded to become the state’s largest diagnostic lab, processing over 30% of the tests state-wide. To date, we’ve conducted 4.1 million tests, with an average of 220,000 tests per week, and we still see the potential to grow and better serve the Florida community. This wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of our nurses, directors, managers, and everyone who keeps each test site moving.

Tampa Bay Dawns van crew

What has the response to Curative been like in Florida?

Our priority in the Florida region has always been to provide options to the populations that need it most. That journey started with nursing homes. Since the beginning, the response to our work was overwhelmingly positive. Our nursing home partners were grateful to have our rapid and reliable tests so that they can continue to ensure the health of their staff and patients.

In 2020, we collected over 1.5 million tests from care facilities alone. To serve populations most at need, we needed to build a strong logistics foundation. When our nursing home contract first began, we made a commitment to get tests in the hands of nursing homes within two days — and two days later, nursing home staff were being tested. We’ve doubled down on our commitment to the Florida community, and our efforts have created strong ties based on trust, reliability, and consistency.

Curative’s vans ready to travel to new testing sites

What are you most excited about for the vaccine distribution rollout in Florida from Curative?

I’m excited to take everything we’ve learned and built from testing and apply it to the next stage in ending this pandemic: providing vaccines. We have a thorough system of storage and distribution, including warehouses located across the state, and we’re ready to go once we get the signal. We’re committed to offering the same efficient and easy process that we do with testing to vaccine distribution. Lots of people that we’ve worked with have indicated their excitement and willingness to get the vaccine, and we’re honored to have built strong relationships within the community to become a trusted vaccine provider.

Distribution centers with the capacity for vaccine rollout

Curative Inc. and its subsidiary, Curative Management Services LLC, engage with medical entities that provide vaccination services.

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