British Columbia

Drive-thru COVID-19 testing site sets up in Burnaby's Central Park

A drive-thru COVID-19 testing site has been established in Burnaby’s Central Park for health-care workers and other patients referred by their family doctor.

Testing site will examine health-care workers and patients referred by a physician

Only patients referred to the Central Park testing facility in Burnaby may gain entry. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

A drive-thru COVID-19 testing site has been established in Burnaby's Central Park for health care workers and other patients referred by their family doctor. 

The Burnaby Division of Family Practice, which is coordinating the participating physicians, says this site is part of a comprehensive COVID-19 strategy that Burnaby's primary care partners are rolling out.

Among those partners is the City of Burnaby, which is providing the parking lot, Burnaby RCMP are securing the area, and Fraser Health has committed the nursing staff.

Burnaby family doctor and board chair for the Burnaby Division of Family Practice Dr. Lindsay McCaffrey says with low supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) in doctors' offices this provides a safer environment to examine people exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. 

"Timewise we're not set up to be able to properly clean rooms after patients, so we really needed an essential site where patients could come where the doctors were set up with full PPE," said McCaffrey.

A makeshift health care facility has been set up in Burnaby’s Central Park to test patients for COVID-19 and provide primary care. (Rafferty Baker)

The testing process

To be assessed at the site you must be referred. Health care workers that have COVID-19 symptoms will receive a referral, and so may those with moderate symptoms whose family doctor requests further assessment. A referral may also result from completing the questionnaire at

The set up is also meant to provide primary care to patients already self-isolating due to possible COVID-19 symptoms or exposure. Therefore patients who may be experiencing other health issues like abdominal pain or an ankle sprain can receive face time with a doctor, safely.

A shortage of personal protective equipment has pushed primary care partners to funnel people with COVID-19 symptoms to a Burnaby testing facility. (Rafferty Baker)

Upon arrival patients are met with RCMP officers maintaining the safety of the site, they are assessed by a coordinator, then met by a medical assistant who collects their information and registers them. 

A nurse will gather their history, take some vital signs, and conduct a swab test for COVID-19 if the patient meets the CDC testing guidelines. If a physical assessment with a physician is required, the patient will move on to one of three portable exam rooms. 

Burnaby health care workers expect the number of drive-thru patients to increase. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Testing expected to increase

Since the testing centre opened on Mar. 28, McCaffrey says it hasn't been at capacity, with only several dozen patients being examined per day between their operating hours of 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., but she says those hours will expand as the number of patients increases.

"We are expecting it to ramp up unfortunately, and we've got room to expand, adding more physicians onsite if the need arises," said McCaffrey.

She says they're also in talks with family doctors about using local clinics as COVID-19 assessment centres. 

A health care worker is pictured at a COVID-19 testing centre in Burnaby, British Columbia on Wednesday, April 1, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

And while initiatives like this drive-thru testing site are focussed on COVID-19, McCaffrey wants to remind people that doctors are still available for their patients. 

"We're open for business. We're providing virtual care through phone or video appointments, and we're there to serve the primary care needs of all of our patients, so don't put your health on hold."


With files from Rafferty Baker