TDMH to open COVID-19 Assessment Centre Wednesday

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The signage for Tillsonburg’s new COVID-19 Assessment Centre at 17 Bear Street is expected to go up tomorrow, Wednesday, May 27.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Southwestern Public Health, Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital will open the COVID-19 Assessment Centre on Wednesday to serve the residents of Tillsonburg and surrounding communities. The assessment centre is a short distance from the Rolph Street hospital, between Coon Alley and Bidwell Street.

Until now, residents of Tillsonburg and area could be tested for COVID-19 at the Woodstock Hospital Assessment Centre, as well as some family physician offices and in the TDMH Emergency Department.

Over the weekend, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced the opportunity to be tested for the virus is now available to ALL, emphasizing that “you will not be turned away, even if you or your family don’t have symptoms. If you feel you need a test, you will be able to get a test.”

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“If you are worried you have COVID-19, or that you’ve been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, even if you’re not showing symptoms, please go get a test,” Ford said during a televised speech on Sunday. “You will not be turned away, you don’t need an appointment, just show up.”

A spokesman for the Minister of Health later said in an email that the province does not anticipate demand for tests to outpace supply, even with Ford’s directive.

The messaging was a marked change from earlier guidelines for the general public, which said that only people displaying one or more symptoms of the novel coronavirus should be tested. Ford also said a new detailed testing strategy targeting specific sectors will be unveiled next week.

“What Premier Ford announced is basically anyone in Ontario who wants a test will have access to a test,” said Sandy Jansen, President and CEO, TDMH. “And that is the reason why we are tomorrow opening our assessment centre.

“In support of this direction and to ensure we have sufficient capacity for increased testing, we have determined the Tillsonburg Assessment Centre should open immediately,” said Jansen.

No referral is needed but for safety reasons, patients will be asked to schedule an appointment for testing.

“Scheduling an appointment will also allow our team to prepare for your visit, avoid any delays and avoids line up,” said Jodi Edwards, Director Clinical Services at TDMH. “Each visit should take less than 15 minutes.”

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The assessment centre will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. To book an appointment for COVID-19 testing at the TDMH Assessment Centre call 1-855-905-6148.

“We are monitoring the volume of calls and requests between Woodstock and Tillsonburg, and at any point if we get to a place where we can’t get people in, in a reasonable length of time, within say 24 hours, then we actually have the ability to open up a third (Oxford) assessment centre and that will be at Alexandra Hospital (Ingersoll).

“That’s always been our plan, that we on a daily basis monitor our volumes and monitor the disease burden in the community, and we can open – or close – assessment centres as needed by our communities.”

There is no cost to patients to be tested, she noted.

Tillsonburg’s new COVID-19 Assessment Centre at 17 Bear Street. (Chris Abbott/Tillsonburg News)
Tillsonburg’s new COVID-19 Assessment Centre at 17 Bear Street. (Chris Abbott/Tillsonburg News) jpg, TN

Woodstock’s Assessment Centre opened in early April, and around that time, with permission from Southwestern Public Health, TDMH had its own plans to open an assessment centre if at any point it became necessary.

“It was ready to be opened within 24 hours, that was our plan,” said Jansen. “We’ve been working very collaboratively with Woodstock Hospital in our approach to assessment centres for Oxford County, and of course, as well, the surrounding counties to Tillsonburg (Elgin and Norfolk). In the early days, and even up until just recently, the Woodstock Assessment Centre was able to manage the volume quite successfully. There wasn’t any concerns at all with respect to volume.

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“But given this change in direction from the Province around testing, we believe it is appropriate at this point to open our Assessment Centre so that we can handle what we anticipate may be a much higher demand for testing.”

The building at 17 Bear Street, which had been used by Tillsonburg doctors/surgeons pre-pandemic – with close proximity to TDMH – is already set up for easy patient access.

“It’s an accessible building, it has full computer access, it has clinic rooms, so it is very much set up to be a testing-type of centre,” said Jansen.

“We’ll have signs up tomorrow to identify that building, and we really want to ensure that the public is aware that’s where the testing centre is… (17 Bear Street). So there will be a sign going up tomorrow, or maybe late today, and as well we’ll have signs throughout the hospital to ensure that people know where it is.”

cabbott@postmedia.com

– with files from Postmedia

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