Friday, wellness directors at Birmingham, AL-based Atlas Senior Living were learning how to administer tests to detect coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as the company prepared to roll out this week on-site testing, on an as-needed basis, at its 24 senior living communities across six states.

Another Birmingham company, Assurance Scientific Laboratories, is providing the training and the testing kits. “We have secured hundreds,” Atlas President and CEO Scott Goldberg told McKnight’s Senior Living, adding that he is pleased to be able to support a local company. “They’re good people. They know the sensitivity revolving around seniors and how vulnerable they can be to this horrible virus,” he said.

The kits will be sent to Atlas’ corporate office before being distributed to communities as needed, Goldberg added. “It’s a really big deal for our senior to not have to leave and go to a test site or a hospital to get tested, as you can imagine — not just being further exposed to the virus, but just the energy it takes to go through that process,” he said.

Atlas has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at any community, Goldberg said Friday.

The company said Friday it would be implementing some new procedures and policies in the coming days. Atlas already screens employees and residents for symptoms every day, Goldberg said, adding that he hoped the testing of residents at move-in, and staff members as warranted, would provide further reassurance to other residents and staff members.

“I’m so proud of our associates and the management team at the community level,” Goldberg said. “They’re on the front lines. They’re heroes.”

Atlas believed it “likely” was the first senior living company to announce having COVID-19 testing kit availability nationwide, although some other senior living communities reportedly have had testing capabilities.

Houston-based Retirement Center Management had COVID-19 test kits available in its 33 senior living communities across three states beginning last week through a relationship with Excelsior Diagnostics, Angie Fleenor, APRN, MSN, FNP-BC, lab consultant and former senior vice president of clinical operations, told McKnight’s Senior Living on Friday. Fleenor also said she is an advocate for PCR testing, for which RCM has had capability for almost eight months.

COVID-19 testing at other communities is imminent.

Lake Oswego, OR-based Anthem Memory Care, for instance, plans to start offering on-site COVID-19 testing as soon as training is complete, LTC Properties told McKnight’s Senior Living. Tests will be administered to any resident who displays early symptoms, as well as any readmitted or new resident coming into the building, according to the real estate company with Anthem communities in its portfolio.