Health authority changing appointment system for blood collection
Patience wearing thin for residents using phone-in appointment system
The Nova Scotia Health Authority understands the system it has been using to book blood collection appointments has been a source of frustration.
The volume of calls has overwhelmed the system.
Now the health authority is increasing the hours for people to call within the central zone, which includes the Halifax area, Eastern Shore and West Hants.
"This is a short-term plan to provide some relief," said Shauna Thompson, central zone director of pathology and laboratory medicine.
"We've added some additional phone lines and added staff so we can expand the hours so folks can call in and book an appointment."
The changes go into effect this Thursday.
While the extra hours are new, it's still the same system the health authority put in place as part of its response to COVID-19. It allowed for laboratory services to be freed up to maintain testing for the virus.
"We appreciate people trying to work with us and we appreciate their patience," said Thompson. "We really do apologize for the stress and anxiety it's causing."
While the phone-in booking system has frustrated people looking for blood work, it's also making others wonder how long the temporary system will be in place.
"If you're an older person like me in their 60s, we need access to the health-care system on a regular basis for blood work," said Halifax resident Brian Hicks, who says he is overdue to get blood work done. "All of it is currently shut down and I haven't heard about it from the premier or Dr. Strang."
The system ran into problems as soon as it was rolled out.
It does not allow people to leave a message and get a call back for an appointment time. If a caller doesn't get an answer, it asks the caller to try again.
The health authority put out a release earlier this week announcing the expanded call-in times and admitted there were problems with the new system.
"We acknowledge that a patient may have to call multiple times to successfully book an appointment," the release stated. "We appreciate this is frustrating and not an optimal service."
Walk-in, same-day clinic blood collection service is no longer offered due to physical distancing requirements.
With borders being opened in Atlantic Canada and no new cases in the last six days in Nova Scotia, people are beginning to wonder when blood collection clinics will reopen.
"It's a concern as this drags on," said Hicks. "Where am I going to be in regards to my health status? What about the thousands of other people who are in the same boat?"