“We’re hoping with this to serve a good part of our area,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, chief medical officer for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) during today’s media teleconference session.
The Casselman assessment centre has been overwhelmed by the number of people taking advantage of the drive-in setup to get diagnosed for COVID-19.
During the past two weeks the situation has worsened to the point that the daily lineup of cars and trucks with people waiting for their tests done stretched back from the assessment centre to the edge of the village. The EOHU had to hire security and also call for help from the OPP and local bylaw officers to deal with the traffic congestion.
Pop-up site at Calypso
Now a temporary assessment site is set up in the parking lot area of the Calypso Water Park in The Nation Municipality, which has been closed since the pandemic began in spring. The “pop up” test centre is a joint effort between the EOHU, Ontario Health East, and paramedics from the regional ambulance services for Prescott-Russell and Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry.
The new drive-in test centre is located at 2015 Calypso Street, off of the Highway 417 access point in Limoges. It opened today and will be open seven days a week, 9 a.m to 5 p.m.
Staff at the assessment centre will do COVID-19 testing on anyone, from as young as one year old to seniors.
Dr. Roumeliotis noted that reducing the growing huge demands on other assessment centres in the EOHU was the main reason for setting up the temporary site in Limoges. Wait times at all the other assessment centres should also become shorter with the opening of the Limoges site.
All assessment centres in the EOHU region have new priorities for testing individuals. This is also a result of the huge surge in numbers at test centres during the past couple of weeks since schools reopened during the Labour Day weekend period.
First priority for testing goes to people who display one or more symptoms of COVID-19 but do not know if they have the disease or some other condition like an ordinary cold or the flu.
Testing priority also goes to people referred by public health officials for testing because they may have been in close contact with someone who did have COVID-19. Staff and individuals in a site where there is a confirmed COVID-19 outbreak also have priority for testing at an assessment centre.
School-age children have priority and also people with a referral from a doctor or health care worker or who need to get tested to meet Ministry of Health pandemic safety guidelines for a situation like a visit to a long-term care facility.
The provincial government has made arrangements now with more than five dozen pharmacies in Ontario to provide COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic people. These are people who show no symptoms of COVID-19 but want to confirm that they do not have the disease.
At present almost all of the pharmacies which are providing the assessment service for asymptomatic individuals are located in the Ottawa, Toronto, and Peel health regions. These are designated COVID-19 “hot spots” in Ontario because of recent huge surges in the number of confirmed cases in those areas.
Dr. Roumeliotis confirmed that the health ministry has guaranteed the EOHU will have designated pharmacies soon for COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic people.