Codman Closes Its Offsite COVID-19 Testing Facility

Russell Auditorium in Dorchester

Russell Auditorium on Talbot Ave in Dorchester

Since cases of COVID-19 feel dramatically in the aftermath of the Delta and Omicron variants, visits at Codman’s offsite COVID-19 testing facility at Russell Auditorium (70 Talbot Ave., Dorchester) decreased, too. The site closed on Thursday, March 31 at noon.

Patients and community members looking for a COVID-19 test can visit Codman’s Urgent Care department Monday-Friday 8:30 am to 12:30 pm by appointment. We will accept walk-ins if the schedule allows. Below, see the timeline of Russell Auditorium’s role in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Codman’s Offsite Testing Site Opens

Codman opened Russell Auditorium as a COVID-19 testing site in November of 2020 when COVID-19 cases were spiking, and there was still not yet a vaccine. The new offsite facility provided a place where patients and staff could be tested quickly, easily, and conveniently in a socially distanced setting, while freeing up the health center to deliver the primary care and other services that patients and community need.

Planning and launching an offsite testing quickly was a challenge. Clinical staff needed to create protocols. Human Resources needed to staff the facility in an extremely tight labor market. Building Services staff had to make all the physical accommodations to turn a function hall into a medical facility. Communications needed to quickly get the word out to patients and community members about the new site.

Russell quickly became an invaluable community resource where people could go when they were sick, travelling, needed testing for school and work, and more. The numbers in the below chart show the value of the resource.

Russell Auditorium Closes then Re-Opens

In late June of 2020, COVID-19 rates were declining. People were starting to shed their masks and get together, and the pandemic seemed to be receding in our rear-view mirror. Testing demand declined sharply to the point that we closed  Russell Auditorium for COVID-19 testing and moved it back to Urgent Care.

Enter the Delta variant, which became the dominant strain of COVID-19 in August 2020. The Health Center started to become full with people seeking out testing, so Codman re-opened Russell Auditorium for COVID-19 testing.

Russell Becomes Community Testing and Vaccination Center

By late December of 2020, the FDA had approved a vaccination for COVID-19, and Codman partnered with Boston Medical Center to open high-volume COVID-19 vaccination site, also at Russell Auditorium, and the building became a COVID-19 testing and vaccination facility.

Throughout 2020 and the first few months of 2021, the community came to see Russell Auditorium as the go-to site for COVID-19 testing and vaccines. Demand for vaccinations gradually decreased as people got their shots, and many additional sites opened up to provide more. In February, 2022, BMC closed its vaccination site and Codman followed the next month and closed its testing site there.

As valuable as the Russell Auditorium has been in addressing COVID-19, we hope that pandemic infections do not increase enough to necessitate a need to open the site again.