Toronto coronavirus testing centres have "concerns" over longer wait times, lineups

Sep 16 2020, 11:02 am

Toronto’s COVID-19 assessment centres have been seeing an increase in patients, causing some “concern” due to the long wait times and lineups.

On Wednesday, Sarah Downey, president and CEO of Michael Garron Hospital, told Daily Hive in a statement that there has been a “significant increase” in patients at their assessment centre.

This week, they’ve seen over 500 patients per day, up from around 300 per day in July and 400 per day in August.

“I share the concerns about the longer wait times and line-ups that have resulted,” Downey said. “We recognize testing is a critical part of our response to preventing the spread of COVID-19 and we are doing our best to ensure our community has timely access to testing when they need it.”

According to Downey, with the rapid increase in demand for COVID-19 tests, Michael Garron Hospital is working on “ramping up” testing capacity as soon as possible to help reduce wait times.

“We are looking at adding extra staff, are considering expanded hours, and we are opening a temporary COVID-19 Pop-Up Testing Site,” she said.

The site will be in Taylor-Massey (Crescent Town) this week and in Thorncliffe Park beginning September 29 to support additional testing in the community.

“We are exploring every possible option to ensure we can continue to safely support our community during this challenging time.”

And at Women’s College Hospital, they are also seeing an increase in the number of people wanting a coronavirus test, currently taking in 450 to 500 patients daily.

“At Women’s College Hospital, like Assessment Centres across the city, we are seeing an increase in the number of people seeking a COVID-19 test,” a spokesperson told Daily Hive in an email.

“We are currently evaluating options to expand our testing capacity.”

And Toronto Western Hospital told Daily Hive that an assessment centre runs an average of 2,100 to 2,300 tests a week, which has been fairly consistent for the last five weeks.

During the press conference with Premier Doug Ford, he responded to questions about how his government will alleviate the burden from the centres.

He said thousands of new assessment centres involving retailers will help “soon.” And that for the last couple of months they’ve been getting ready to ramp up testing with the help of the private sector.

“We’ll have thousands of testing areas at retailers for people to go out there and get tested. All the major major retailers in this country have stepped up… I’m all over this right now, communicating with every CEO out there,” Ford said.

On Tuesday, Ford said one of the ways the lineups could be reduced is testing asymptomatic individuals at pharmacies, which could be officially announced in the coming days.

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