Richmond nurses start business to provide on-call rapid testing for events; vaccine rollout boosts antibody testing


RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) – As the vaccine rollout began, two Richmond nurses noticed it became more difficult for people to get tested for COVID-19, so they started their own business, testing people for the virus and other things at events like weddings.

Pediatric nurse Kelley Kassay and director of nursing Mary Brandon started their business Elite Event Medical Specialist in February, rapidly testing people for things like COVID-19, the flu and strep throat.

“We were like, why should people not choose to get married because they’re afraid of COVID at their wedding?” Brandon said.

The idea to start the business began when Brandon and Kassay were testing volunteers for Kassay’s Mason’s Toy Box Foundation.

After that, business owners would request them for events.

“We had other businesses that, you know, wanted to do that but they didn’t have the accessibility,” Brandon said.

People show up to events like weddings, they test them with a mid-nasal swab and results show within 15 minutes.

A nurse with Elite Event Medical Specialist tests a guest before an event. (Photo: Jake Lyell)

Then, it’s the bride, groom or event host’s decision whether or not to allow the guest into the event if they’re positive.

As more vaccines go into arms across central Virginia, Brandon said business hasn’t slowed down much because people still want to get tested for antibodies to make sure they’re protected.

“You got fifteen guys that want to get on a fishing boat that want to go fishing, it’s fishing season. They do not want to be told, no we cannot get on a boat and then everybody comes back with COVID,” Brandon said. “So, I think that as the summer activities open up, as events open up, I think it’s going to be more popular that people want to be tested.”

Brandon and Kassay also send off polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to a lab they’ve contracted with for people who are planning vacations.

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