Source, The Times Herald, Donna Rovin
UPPER MERION — A Montgomery County business that opened in October to respond to the need for rapid COVID-19 testing has expanded its scope.
The company — 15toKnow — currently offers drive-through COVID-19 testing at 11 locations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, with results available within 15 minutes.
The company now stands ready to assist with the administration of COVID-19 vaccines, once the vaccine supply is more plentiful.
15toKnow relocated its headquarters earlier this month to the former site of Toys R Us near the King of Prussia Mall, 250 Mall Blvd. in Upper Merion.
In the parking lot of the company’s headquarters, 15toKnow has erected four structures. Two to accommodate drive-up COVID-19 testing, while the other two structures will accommodate drive up vaccine administration.
“We are ready, willing and able to help,” said Mike Dershowitz, 15toKnow CEO and managing director.
The site is capable of vaccinating up to 3,000 people per day.
“We built this huge vaccination site in King of Prussia to prove a private company can have the logistics, the technology and the personnel to help with ending the pandemic,” he said.
The vaccination site, like the company’s testing facilities, can be replicated around the commonwealth, Dershowitz added.
15toKnow has been an approved vaccination provider since early January, and has already administered first and second doses of vaccines. The company administered 300 second doses March 13 and 14, and planned to administer more than 120 second doses this weekend.
Dershowitz said the state stopped first dose supplies for private providers, and since Feb. 15 the company has been only administering second doses.
Now, the company is waiting — like most providers — to have vaccines available to administer.
“We just need them to say they have vaccines ready to allocate to us. We’re ready when the state is ready for us,” he added.
The company has a waiting list of people in the 1A vaccination group who pre-registered on the company’s website. Once the vaccines are available Dershowitz said the company will begin contacting those on the list, via email and text urging them to set up an appointment.
Once patients arrive for their appointment, they will be directed where to go. They will stay in their cars to receive their vaccination and must remain at the site for at least 15 minutes after receiving their vaccination.
Dershowitz said a mobile app will be available, allowing customers to check in to the site automatically. It will also feature a countdown timer and have an emergency nurse notification. The second dose appointment will be made when patients receive their first dose.
Dershowitz said he was contacted late last spring by Dr. Luciano Kapelusznik, M.D. an infectious disease specialist who had been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and is 15toKnow’s medical director and managing director.
“He said ‘the public needs testing, we can do better,’” Dershowitz said. “We talked about it, saw the benefit to society and saw it was a business that could grow.”
Dershowitz describes himself as an entrepreneur with experience in quickly scaling businesses.
The company formed in August 2020, began setting up leases with major malls in the Philadelphia region to lease outdoor space for the test sites and began to find testing suppliers.
The first site opened Oct. 14. Between October and February, the company more than doubled its presence in the tristate region. By January, the sites were testing 3,000 people per day.
Patients make an appointment for a COVID-19 test, and when they arrive at the drive-up testing location they are given a tube with a nasal swab that they self-administer, place back into the tube and hand to the technician before driving away. The test is run on the spot, and the customer is notified of the results within 15 minutes.
15toKnow currently provides a rapid antigen test, as well as a molecular nucleic acid amplification test with similar technology and accuracy to RT-PCR but with results in 15 minutes.
“At the heart of it all, 15toKnow’s mission is to provide individuals with peace of mind and make sure communities have in place the best possible resources for remaining safe,” Dershowitz said.
He acknowledges that as COVID cases have leveled off and more vaccines are being administered, testing numbers have gone down. However, he said the company believes its testing will continue to have a place.
“It is about peace of mind and people feeling safe,” he said.
15toKnow currently has about 200 employees. Appointments for COVID-19 testing can be scheduled between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., seven days a week. For information about COVID-19 testing, including types of tests, costs and locations, visit https://15toknow.com/
For information about the COVID-19 vaccination and to be added to the waiting list visit https://15toknow.com/.