New Brunswick

New COVID-19 testing drive-thru opens in Moncton Coliseum

A new COVID-19 assessment centre will give Horizon Health the ability to increase the number of tests done in the Moncton region.

Larger assessment centre gives Horizon Health more capacity to swab and test patients for COVID-19

Horizon Health has closed its original COVID-19 assessment centre, which was located in a parking lot at the Moncton Hospital, and opened this new centre inside the Moncton Coliseum. (HorizonHealthNB/Twitter)

A new COVID-19 assessment centre will give Horizon Health the ability to increase the number of tests done in the Moncton region.

The outdoor, drive-thru testing centre that was located in a Moncton Hospital parking lot has closed, and one of the agrenas at the Moncton Coliseum has been set up to swab patients by appointment.

Kathleen Buchanan, the director of primary health for Horizon Health in the Moncton region, said staff were testing about 65 patients per day at the old location but moved to be prepared for a spike.

"At the Coliseum, if we're staffed to full capacity, we're able to see up to 430 people a day, if need be," she said.

Kathleen Buchanan, Horizon's director of primary health for the Moncton region, says the new Coliseum assessment site is inside and, when fully staffed, can test up to 430 people per day for COVID-19. (Submitted by Horizon Health)

Buchanan explained a working group is keeping an eye on capacity and thought it was prudent to move to the larger space that will also keep health care workers out of the elements.

"One of the directions of course provincially is to stand six feet apart and this is also for our own employees, so it gives us a lot more space and it gets everybody out of the inclement weather." she said.

Drive-thru assessment by appointment only

The new centre only provides testing to patients who have set up an appointment by calling 8-1-1, or through a consultation with a doctor.

At the new assessment centre, patients with an appointment for COVID-19 testing, will drive inside the Moncton Coliseum. The old centre, which was outside in a Moncton Hospital parking lot, is now closed. (Pierre Fournier/CBC)

When patients arrive at the Moncton Coliseum, they must stop at a security tent where a staff member will call ahead so the garage door can be opened.

"There's two registration areas — they can go left or right — and they go to the first registration spot and they confirm the patient's identification and appointment and then they tell them to go up to the nursing location ," she said.

With six separate nursing stations, Buchanan said they will decide on staffing according to the number of referrals each day. Patients will need to answer some questions, then they will be swabbed without getting out of their vehicle, and will finally be directed to exit through the other end of the Coliseum agrena.

The testing centre is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.

5.000 test kits arrived today

Buchanan says the assessment centre is averaging 42 people a day, and staff currently have enough tests and enough protective equipment, such as masks, for workers.

"We work very closely with the Georges Dumont [Hospital] and the province and we have a few working groups that monitor the swabs, the personal protective equipment each day and they report it up, so if new ones need to be ordered they can do so immediately." she said.

On Monday, the province of New Brunswick announced it had received 5,000 new test kits and says the supply of personal protective equipment is beginning to flow from the federal government. A spokesperson for the Dept. of Health said 100,000 masks are expected from Ottawa.

Buchanan says she's confident there's enough capacity for the area at the new location.

"We have one of the agrenas and if need be we can either partner with Vitalité [Health Authority] to open up the other agrena and create the exact same set up that we have and we'd reach double the amount, which would be around 800 a day."

She is encouraging people who have a fever, with or without a cough, or someone who has a worsening chronic cough to call 811.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate Letterick is a reporter with CBC New Brunswick.

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