PEI

Islanders had to wait up to 3 hours to get tested for COVID-19 Thursday

People across P.E.I. had to line up for hours before they could get tested for COVID-19 on Thursday.

Montague clinic, pop-up testing site in Souris were closed due to weather

Islanders had to wait up to three hours to get tested at the Charlottetown and Borden-Carlton clinics on Thursday. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

People across P.E.I. had to line up for hours before they could get tested for COVID-19 on Thursday.

Islanders at the COVID-19 testing clinics in Charlottetown and Borden-Carlton had to wait up to three hours to get swabbed. By 2 p.m., volumes were so high that the clinics had to stop letting people in.

This while the clinic in Montague and the pop-up testing site in Souris, which was set up amid rising cases in eastern P.E.I., had to close for the day due to the weather.

Health P.E.I. Chief of Nursing Marion Dowling said the timing of the closures was unfortunate, but they were necessary to ensure Islanders' safety.

"We're really trying to factor in the safety for everyone. We have to have courier services running those test samples back and forth to our lab in Charlottetown," she said. 

"We know what the lineups were like out on the roadways. We need to make sure it's safe for everyone coming to those clinics, not just about our staff setting up the drive-thru."

Dowling said the decision to stop taking in more people at the testing clinics that were open was made in consideration of the staff.

"When you're running these clinics day over day, we do run into limits on how many hours humans can physically work without being exhausted, and our staff do need to be able to get out of work especially on a day like today when the road conditions aren't great."

'They need to step up their game'

Vanessa Lund, a rotational worker who says she's gotten over 90 COVID tests, said the lineups on Thursday were the longest she's ever seen.

"For people that are coming and going, you know, two, three times a month, it's a lot to be sitting here," she said. "I understand it. We all are doing this to protect each other. But maybe an appointment would help for certain people coming and going."

Travis Boudreau, a teacher at École La-Belle-Cloche, was in the lineup to get tested for the third time since cases at the school were announced.

"I did my online teaching this morning, and I said, 'OK, at noontime, I'm going in to do my test,' he said. "And I saw the line and said, 'It's got to be done.' It's either you wait or you wait, unfortunately."

Boudreau said the high volumes may be due to people from eastern P.E.I. who, like him, are getting tested due to the COVID-19 exposures there.

Testing clinics had to shut early for the day because there were so many people lined up to get tested. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Amanda Cooke said there have been long wait times at the Charlottetown site for days. She and her husband have to get tested since they returned recently from a medical appointment off-Island.

Cooke said she was at the Borden site to get tested, but that she was told there was no guarantee she'd be seen.

"They need to step up their game. They need to offer more options to Islanders that don't have a choice," she said. 

"They said, 'well it's because of all the exposure sites. The testing clinic is under a lot of pressure.' Then you need to offer more sites. You need to offer longer hours."

The Souris pop-up clinic will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday. The O'Leary, Slemon Park, Borden and Charlottetown clinics will be open regular hours as well.

With files from Steve Bruce and Brittany Spencer

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