Covid test ‘no-shows’ straining system

Tara Jeffrey

Local health officials are urging residents requiring a COVID-19 test to cancel appointments they’re not able to attend, noting that 10% of testing slots are “no shows.”

“People are booking appointments and then not showing up for their appointments,” said Laurie Zimmer, VP of operations at Bluewater Health. “If you can’t make your appointment, please cancel, because it really does free up the appointment so we can support the capacity and demand required right now for testing.”

Zimmer said Lambton has seen a ‘huge increase’ in testing volume in the last month, noting that public assessment centres have ramped up their hours and availability to accommodate the growing need.

“We have over 300 active cases right now, which all have a connection to someone.”

Testing for COVID-19 locally includes a collaboration between hospital, public health, primary care, EMS, and First Nation communities. Public assessment centres in Sarnia include the Rapids Family Health Team and Twin Bridges Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic, as well as one in Wyoming run jointly by the Central Lambton Family Health Team and the North Lambton Community Health Centre, and one at the Grand Bend Community Health Centre. Indigenous Health Centres offer testing to members of their First Nation communities.

Locations, hours and links to book appointments are available on Lambton Public Health’s website: https://lambtonpublichealth.ca/2019-novel-coronavirus/testing-criteria/#public. Appointments are mandatory, and cancelations can be made online.

The public assessment centres provide testing for people who are symptomatic, who have been in close contact with a positive person, or individuals who require testing, like staff and visitors in long-term care.

The community paramedicine program is also offered through Lambton EMS and the mobile outreach team, to reach people who are isolated or rural and unable to make it to a testing centre. The team also helps in long-term care homes in outbreak to provide testing.

Lambton Public Health offers testing for students and children in child care, and pharmacies provide non-symptomatic testing.