You may have heard about a change to the provincial approach to testing. We are now encouraging open access to testing for anyone with symptoms and anyone with a concern about a possible exposure to COVID. This includes people who are contacts of or may have been exposed to a confirmed or suspected case or people who are at risk of exposure to COVID-19 through their employment,including essential workers (e.g., health care workers, grocery store employees, food processing plants).
Health care workers from either hospital system will continue to receive testing through current occupational health processes. Community based health care workers are encouraged to have their testing arranged at the St Joe’s East End site to facilitate rapid testing results.
In Hamilton, we are lucky to have several sites to support testing of all populations. The drive through site at the Dave Andreychuk Arena provides an accessible site for those with vehicles, but cannot provide testing for children under the age of 4 or those who arrive on foot.(Hours of operation, 10-4).
The HHS West End clinic (11am–4pm, M–F) and St Joe’s Community Health Centre (4–8 pm, M–F, Weekends 10am–2pm) are also able to offer testing to both booked and walk-in clients, but we would like to minimize walk-ins for many reasons.
In order to offer the best service possible, we are strongly encouraging pre-registration and pre-booked appointments. These appointments are to help decrease wait times, ensure an orderly flow and to protect patients and staff. No one will be denied access to a test — but it is our collective interest to plan the flow. We should also be continuing efforts to identify anyone who is symptomatic and who requires rapid testing — and immediate isolation pending testing results.
At this point in time, because of uncertainties in public demand in response to opening up of testing, we cannot guarantee same day testing, especially for walk-ins.
So, if you receive questions from your patients, you can use the same processes as you have previously. Please help them understand the need for pre-registration and/or booked appointments.
Continue screening patients for symptoms. Encourage self isolation until their test results are known. Community health is especially well served by encouraging people who are symptomatic to receive testing as soon as possible. As ever, people who are acutely unwell should be directed to urgent care or the emergency department.
In the longer term (next few weeks), we hope to have patient-friendly electronic booking and registration apps that will make this process smoother. In the meantime, thank you for your efforts in supporting access to testing.
of Health guidelines for Primary Care
May 22, 2020