The Glengarry News

Not for everyone

Testing centre in Hawkesbury; home service

publisher Mar 21, 2020 - 10:54am
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) is collaborating with local EMS to implement a special Community Paramedic Program in preparation for the potential increase in COVID-19 cases in the area. The new program aims to provide faster access to testing and assessments for individuals who are at higher risk, such as seniors and people with underlying health conditions, while reducing the strain on 911 services and hospital emergency rooms. Assessing and testing higher-risk individuals at home will also help reduce the possibility of spreading the virus in hospitals and doctors’ offices, as well as the larger community.

“With an increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Ontario and across Canada, we anticipate that there will be a growing need for COVID-19 testing and assessments in our community as well,” says Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health. “We’re hoping that a mobile testing/assessment service will help reduce the number of people calling 911 and visiting hospital emergency rooms, unless they require urgent care.”

In-home testing/assessments will only be offered to more vulnerable individuals who meet the Ministry of Health’s criteria. Residents who think they have COVID-19 symptoms and who are age 70 or older, or who have compromised immune systems or chronic health conditions should call the EOHU at 613-933-1375 or 1-800-267-7120. They should not call EMS or 911 unless they have severe symptoms and require urgent care.

Public health nurses are staffing the EOHU phone line 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. They will assess symptoms and provide instructions to callers. These could include recommendations to self-monitor, self-isolate or seek medical care.

Based on the telephone assessment, if testing may be required for an individual at higher risk, the EOHU will coordinate with the Community Paramedic Program to send a paramedic to the individual’s home to conduct an assessment and if needed, a COVID-19 test.

At the same time, the EOHU, in partnership with the Hawkesbury and District General Hospital, is opening a COVID-19 testing and assessment centre in Hawkesbury March 23.

The centre at 750 Laurier S. will be open Monday through Friday each week, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“The aim of the testing/assessment centre is to increase access to COVID-19 testing and medical assessments for EOHU area residents, while reducing the strain on 911, EMS and hospital emergency rooms so that they can focus on urgent care,” says Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health. “It will also reduce the risk of spreading the virus in hospitals and doctors’ offices, helping us to protect healthcare workers and other patients from COVID-19 infection.”

Testing/Assessment Centre limited to people with moderate, worsening (but non-severe) symptoms

The EOHU stresses that not everyone who is concerned that they may have COVID-19 should go to the testing/assessment centre. Only people who have worsening, but not severe, COVID-19 symptoms (such as fever and worsening cough) should go to the centre for testing and/or assessment. Not everyone may be tested; the decision to test will be based on symptoms, travel history, and contact history.

Residents with mild symptoms that can be managed at home should not show up at the centre as they will not be tested or assessed. Residents who have symptoms and are age 70 or over, or who have chronic medical conditions or compromised immune systems should call the EOHU at 613-933-1375 or 1-800-267-7120. Anyone experiencing severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing should call 911 or go to the hospital emergency room.

For additional details, visit www.eohu.ca/coronavirus.

“HGH is grateful for this partnership with the Eastern Ontario Health Unit. This COVID-19 Assessment Centre will help protect our patients, their families, our employees and our physicians,” states Dr. Julie Maranda, Chief of Staff at the Hawkesbury and District General Hospital. “The hope is we can stay ahead of the game and prevent the spread of the virus as much as possible.”

Additional testing/assessment centres are expected to open in the region soon. The EOHU will notify the public when these centres become available.