Sudbury·Audio

Without a car or licence, this woman says getting tested for COVID-19 in Sudbury was difficult

A woman in Sudbury says her recent experience in trying to access COVID-19 testing posed many challenges.

Brianna Brohm says she wasn't prepared for the headache that would follow a medical trip to Toronto

When Brianna Brohm was finally able to successfully schedule an appointment, Brohm says she was told all testing sites were drive-thru-only. (Submitted by Brianna Brohm)

A woman in Sudbury says her recent experience in trying to access COVID-19 testing was a huge challenge.

In early July, Brianna Brohm left for a medical appointment in Toronto. When she returned, she said her employer asked her to self-isolate for seven days and get tested for COVID-19.

When she tried to schedule an appointment, Brohm said she was put on hold four hours at a time. She said made several attempts over a period of a few days.

"I just couldn't get through. It was almost comparable to people trying to call in to the CRA to get CERB," she said. 

She also soon found out, not having access to a vehicle wouldn't help her cause. 

It would have just been very embarrassing to have that experience in front of a bunch of vehicles.— Brianna Brohm

When she was finally able to successfully schedule an appointment, Brohm said she was told all testing sites were drive-thru-only. As someone without a car or a licence, she said she felt she was given limited options to access testing.

She said she was told she could either ask someone to drive her, physically walk up to a testing site and stand in line alongside vehicles or call an ambulance to transport her — which she was under the impression she would have to pay for.

None of the options she was given seemed viable, Brohm said.

'I would have definitely stood out'

She said standing in line to receive testing, alongside people in their vehicles, particularly felt like a strange suggestion.

"It would have just been very embarrassing to have that experience in front of a bunch of vehicles, of people in cars looking at me. And I would have been the only person," she said.

"I would have definitely stood out." 

Since the pandemic started, a spokesperson with Health Sciences North says about 15,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Sudbury. (Erik White/CBC )

Brohm said she lives nearly 12 kilometres from the testing centre on Walford Road, where her appointment was made. Eventually, she said she was forced to ask a friend to put themselves at risk of contracting COVID-19 and drive her.

"A lot of my friends have children of their own or family members who are immune compromised and I really felt horrible even having to ask — but I also needed it to return to work," she said.

"So it was quite a conflicting situation for me." 

It's almost a deterrent for people to go [get tested] given the difficulty of it.— Brianna Brohm

In an email to the CBC, a spokesperson with Health Sciences North (HSN) said, "In recent weeks we have seen an increase in the number of calls coming through our COVID-19 Assessment Centre for testing which has made it difficult at times for people to get through to a nurse." 

'No cost to patients'

HSN's spokesperson added that all three testing sites offer patients a chair to sit on while waiting for testing which would happen in the parking lot, should they choose to access the drive-thru by foot. 

However, they also clarified, "If someone is without personal transportation and is not able to come to the site for testing, we will send community paramedics at no cost to the patient."

According to the spokesperson, so far, the city's COVID-19 assessment centres have tested more than 15,000 people. 

Health Sciences North is testing possible COVID-19 cases at an assessment centre its set up at its research facility on Walford Road in Sudbury. (Erik White/CBC)

'Being mindful'

Brohm said she appreciates how hard healthcare workers have been working during the pandemic. However, she said she feels the system as it is, has room for improvement when it comes to accessibility. 

"It's almost a deterrent for people to go [get tested] given the difficulty of it," she said. 

"It's being mindful and inclusive of everybody." 

Not having a car, or a licence or even living with a disability, she said, should not be barriers standing in the way of people being proactive about their health during the pandemic.

Brohm said she tested negative for COVID-19 and has since returned back to work. 

In early July, Brianna Brohm travelled for a medical appointment in Toronto. She left, having no idea just how much grief the short trip would cause her later. When she came back to Sudbury, her employer asked her to self-isolate and get tested for COVID-19. In trying to schedule an appointment, she says she was put on hold for hours at a time. Not owning a car didn't help matters. She spoke with us about her experience. 6:33

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sam Juric

Reporter

Sam Juric is a reporter with CBC Sudbury and can be reached at sam.juric@cbc.ca.

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