After getting tested for COVID-19, comes isolation and waiting for this Hamilton man

A 30-year-old Hamilton man describes his trip to get tested for the novel coronavirus after getting sick days after a work trip to Las Vegas from March 9 to March 14.

'In my head I was like, ‘Well, of course, it’s not going to be me’'

Jayson Koblun got tested for COVID-19 after a trip to Las Vegas. He said while the facility looked like it had been created overnight, staff seemed confident in their procedure. (Submitted by Jayson Koblun)

Jayson Koblun sat in the back of a vehicle with the windows down and a bandana tied around his face as his wife drove him to the Urgent Care Clinic on Main Street West.

She waited in the parking lot as he entered the facility and approached the masked security guard who sat behind a fibreglass booth.

Koblun was getting tested for COVID-19 at one of the city's two designated assessment centres.

A work trip to Las Vegas left him battling short breaths, a fever and at the mercy of intense, phlegm-filled coughing fits, stealing any chance of a good night's sleep.

"In my head, I was like, 'Well, of course, it's not going to be me,' " said Koblun, who works as an editor for a pair of trade magazines.

The Urgent Care Centre on Main Street West of one of two COVID-19 assessment centres in Hamilton — this location is where Jayson went to get tested. (Submitted by Google Maps)

But as he passed the security guard heading in for his test on Sunday, about a week after returning to Hamilton on March 14, he wasn't sure what to think.

After swapping his bandana for a mask and washing his hands, the fit 30-year-old sat down in a chair and waited. 

"It looked like something they just created overnight," he said.

'It's not going to be me'

Koblun saw about five others getting tested that day, a pleasant surprise compared to the image of a room stuffed full of sniffling people he conjured up in his mind.

As each person left, nurses wiped down the seats, replacing their gloves each time.

Armed with his health card, Koblun approached another nurse sitting behind a booth of her own, wearing a mask, gloves and full scrubs before he was called to sit inside a room.

Workers appeared in good spirits, joking with one another. Others walked by wearing visors.

Eventually, Koblun had his blood pressure and temperature checked. And finally, came the test for COVID-19.

Koblun tilted his head back and pulled his mask down just beneath his nostrils.

Then, the nurse inserted a cotton swab up his nose.

"It was almost like I could feel it behind my eyebrow," he said. "Before she did it, I even said 'Are you going to touch my brain?' "

Koblun left the facility shortly after, through a different door. He was there for about 45 minutes and went home with some sheets to guide him through self-isolation.

"They seemed like they knew what they were doing," he said.

But it had taken him more than a day of calls to TeleHealth and listening to dead air for what seemed like a lifetime, before eventually setting up an appointment directly through Hamilton Public Health Services for the test.

Positive or negative?

He's now trying to keep his distance from his wife and he's sleeping on the couch while she takes the bed. He'll need to self-isolate for 14 days after his first day without symptoms.

Koblun knew a test wouldn't lead him to any kind of medicine to alleviate his symptoms, but went anyway.

"I would like to participate to the stats and the data that Canada needs right now," he said.

He's one of 550 people who have visited the assessment centres as of Monday afternoon.

Though, Koblun doesn't know which list he'll be a part of — "negative" or "positive."

He'll have to wait three to five days to learn if he joins the at least 32 others infected with COVID-19 in Hamilton.


Bobby Hristova is a journalist with CBC Hamilton. He reports on all issues, but has a knack for stories that hold people accountable, stories that focus on social issues and investigative journalism. He previously worked for the National Post and CityNews in Toronto. You can contact him at bobby.hristova@cbc.ca.