SEATTLE — Swedish Health Services is working to help people in transitional housing and shelters get access to coronavirus (COVID-19) testing.

The company has converted a mobile mammogram trailer into a road-going testing facility. Tuesday, it was set up for several hours at a Plymouth Housing site downtown.

“Right now, we’re focused on screening those with symptoms, so residents and staff members who have cough, shortness of breath or fever,” said Michele Arnold, executive medical director of Swedish Rehabilitation and Performance Medicine.

It’s especially important, the partners say, because folks experiencing homelessness or transitioning into housing are especially at-risk to contract the coronavirus. 

Good hygiene can present a challenge for those in unstable situations, and there are often other complicating factors like mental or physical issues.

“The challenge is it’s very difficult for someone who doesn’t have a place to call home to socially distance themselves from other people,” said Arnold. “And some of the residents here at Plymouth Housing have behavioral health challenges that might make it tough to follow strict precautions about isolation.”

Transportation to the doctor also can be difficult – so they decided to bring the testing directly to those in need.

“To be able to bring services on-site where people can be assessed and tested, I think is a boost to the entire community,” said Michael Quinn with Plymouth Housing.

Wednesday, they plan to set up at the Downtown Emergency Services Center (DESC).

“I’m just super moved by people’s ability to come together today as a community of coworkers, but truly in terms of the Seattle community and being able to help these people who are in crisis,” said Kristin Morrow, director of operations at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute.

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