Sudbury·Audio

Sudbury paramedics doing house calls to test for COVID-19

Hundreds of people wondering about whether they have COVID-19 are getting tested in their own homes. In Greater Sudbury, paramedics are doing house calls for those physically unable to get to the assessment centre.

Appointment with paramedics made when person is physically unable to get tested at the clinic

Roger Frappier has been a paramedic in Greater Sudbury for 17 years and, during the pandemic, his job has shifted to testing people for COVID-19 in their homes. (Supplied )

Life for most seems to have slowed down during the pandemic and that's certainly true for Greater Sudbury paramedic Roger Frappier.

He is still very busy, but instead of rushing off to help someone in distress, he now goes to someone's home at a scheduled time and tests them for COVID-19.

"For us, it's a little bit different," says Frappier. 

"Everything's slow and steady instead of being an emergency, where we're rushing a little bit more. Everything's a bit more planned out."

The 17-year veteran is one of several paramedics who have, so far, swabbed 500 Sudburians who are unable to make it to the assessment centre to be tested for the virus.

Frappier says patients are asked to set up a chair near their front door, so paramedics don't have to venture too far into their home, be it an apartment or room at a nursing home.

He says sometimes it's more nerve-wracking than his normal job. 

"Yes and no. The yes part because it's still a little unknown," Frappier says. 

"The no part because we take every precaution possible. For us, everyone is in a sense, presumed positive, so we take all precautions."

Melissa Roney is the deputy chief of Greater Sudbury's Paramedic Services. (Photo supplied by City of Greater Sudbury)

Paramedics normally wear personal protective equipment, but regulations are even tighter for those dealing with potential COVID-19 cases. 

"Yes, there's a heightened level of anxiety, I would say. I would be silly to not say there's any," says Melissa Roney, Greater Sudbury's deputy chief of paramedic services.

"But I believe with the skills that our staff have that they have and can remain safe in doing their work."

She says while this seems like unusual work for ambulances, it does fit in with the community paramedic program, which for the past few years has seen her staff providing home care to seniors and others in Greater Sudbury. 

About the Author

Erik White

journalist

Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to erik.white@cbc.ca

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