Covid-19 drive-thru testing at Sutton Arena on July 29

By: Mike Anderson

The Georgina Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic (GNPLC) has provincial approval to proceed with a second-round of drive-thru COVID-19 testing.

Like the first drive-thru testing offered on July 29, the testing site will be the Sutton Arena parking lot at 48 Hawkins St.

However, this time the testing will be pre-booked and will occur over two hours on Wednesday, October 28, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Residents can book a test by calling 1-888-470-2222, ext. 6171, but calls will only be answered from Monday to Friday.

According to Clinical Director Beth Cowper-Fung, GNPLC will be able to administer up to 50 pre-booked tests, with two cars being processed every five minutes.

No walk-ups will be accepted, and only residents without COVID-19 symptoms can book an appointment.

There are also strict restrictions on who can be tested.

“The ministry has set out guidelines about asymptomatic testing, and there’s a fairly narrow group of people that they are willing to run the tests for,” Ms. Cowper-Fung said.

That group includes residents or workers in long-term care homes, visitors to LTCHs, residents or workers in homeless shelters, international students who passed their 14-day quarantine, farmworkers and members of Indigenous communities.

Ms. Cowper-Fung hopes to offer testing every two weeks, with the next test scheduled for November 11.

“We were able to get to get this one pushed through, which is amazing,” Ms. Cowper-Fung said.

“And I’m hopeful we’ll be able to do this every two weeks. Because that’s how often these poor folks that want to visit their loved ones have to be tested. And so far, we have not had a pharmacy that has had the capacity to be able to do this work.”

“But it depends on where it fits into the regional planning for hotspots and how many tests are being done in what areas,” she added.

Maureen McDermott, who started an online petition on change.org demanding more local testing – which collected more than 300 signatures — is relieved that GNPLC is now able to provide local COVID-19 testing, possibly on an on-going basis.

“I wish it had happened sooner, but I’m relieved it’s happening now,” said Ms. McDermott, who is an essential caregiver for her 93-year-old mother at River Glen Haven.

“I would feel better if it was confirmed for every two weeks. Because this isn’t going away, and as an essential care giver, I have to go for testing every two weeks.”

While GNPLC is funded by the ministry of health, the testing is not covered under its primary care mandate, according to Ms. Cowper Fung.

“This is additional work that we aren’t funded for, or have the time for, but we’re doing it,” she said.

“I think this is very important for the community, and my staff are there with me on this. We’re doing this to help out folks, particularly those who are visiting at River Glen Haven and had such a rough time with COVID-19.”

Still, Ms. Cowper-Fung admits that the testing couldn’t go forward without the support of multiple agencies, like York Region Paramedic Service, which transports the samples to the lab, and Central LHIN co-ordinating phone bookings and posting of test results.

The Town of Georgina is also providing the Sutton Arena parking lot free-of-charge.

But, while Ms. McDermott greatly appreciates the efforts of GNPLC, she wonders that without dedicated funding will local testing in Georgina be viable going forward.

“I’m shocked by that,” said Ms. McDermott. “I just assumed that it’s something that is wholly funded by the government because the government mandates it. “

“Certainly moving forward that doesn’t give me a warm, fuzzy feeling. If it’s being pulled out of their own private funding, how long can it go on for? It needs to be funded by the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Long-Term Care, the ministries that are demanding that I be tested every two weeks; they need to pony up and pay for it. “

While the province recently stated that test results will be available within 24 to 72 hours, Ms. Cowper-Fung said residents can expect to access their test results after 48 hours.

Test results will be posted online at https://covid-19.ontario.ca and require an OHIP card number to access.

If residents do not have an OHIP card or cannot access a computer, the staff at the GNPLC will assist them.

Ms. Cowper-Fung acknowledges a hic-up last time when residents couldn’t access their test results over the August long-weekend, as the province was conducting maintenance on its website.

However, she said that wouldn’t happen again.

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