Blood collection in Elmsdale, N.S., suspended in favour of COVID-19 testing

Lloyd E. Matheson Centre in Elmsdale, NS.
Lloyd E. Matheson Centre in Elmsdale, NS. Jeremy Keefe / Global News

The blood collection clinic located at the Lloyd E. Matheson Centre in Elmsdale, N.S., has been temporarily suspended to avoid vulnerable patients potentially being exposed to the novel coronavirus.

The change comes after concerns from the community that pregnant women and those with health issues could be put in danger of contracting COVID-19 with all services held under one roof.

However, the decision by the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) to suspend blood collection at the location while testing for COVID-19 continues isn’t what some had hoped for.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Halifax mayor recommends residents stay home over upcoming long weekend

“I am thankful they did listen to the community,” said Stacey Anthony, who had spoken with the NSHA about her concerns recently.

“It still presents a lot of problems for a lot of people.”

Story continues below advertisement

Anthony’s mother is in palliative care at home and requires her blood to be drawn by a nurse regularly. Anthony then has to deliver the blood sample.

More COVID-19 cases confirmed in N.S. nursing homes
More COVID-19 cases confirmed in N.S. nursing homes

That trip will now be much longer as Cobequid Health Centre in Sackville, N.S., or the Colchester East Hants Health Centre in Truro, N.S., instead of the closer location that closed indefinitely.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

“We don’t always know when the nurse is going to arrive,” she explained.

“Will there be enough time for me to get that sample and drive it to the new collection place?”

Although Anthony is relieved she is no longer entering the same facility as before, she says those with health conditions will now be forced to make longer trips to more populated areas.

Story continues below advertisement

That will increase their risk of being exposed to the virus, she said.

“It’s putting more people on the road,” Anthony said. “There’s more potential for accidents on the highway, more potential for firefighters to have to attend accidents.”

“It just doesn’t make sense to close down that service.”

READ MORE: Halifax Transit driver tests positive for COVID-19

Among her suggestions were changing the hours so that testing took place later in the day, after blood collection was completed, or moving it next door to the unopened East Hants Aquatic Centre which sits idle.

“There’s lots of empty school parking lots where they could’ve set up mobile testing sites,” she added. “Have sort of a drive-thru where the person stays in the car.”

In a statement, The NSHA said that “temporary assessment centres may be created in areas where there is a higher need for testing, as identified by our surveillance data and in consultation with Public Health.”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Story continues below advertisement

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

Follow @Jeremy_Keefe