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Drive-thru COVID-19 testing centre to run out of arena on Hamilton mountain

Police were called Wednesday afternoon about an alleged assault at Hamilton's drive-thru, COVID-19 assessment centre at Dave Andreychuk Mountain Arena.
Police were called Wednesday afternoon about an alleged assault at Hamilton's drive-thru, COVID-19 assessment centre at Dave Andreychuk Mountain Arena. Rick Zamperin / 900 CHML

A third COVID-19 assessment site is opening up in Hamilton, Ont.

Starting Friday, a drive-thru testing centre will be operating at the Dave Andreychuk Mountain Arena.

The test site will run between 11a.m. and 3 p.m. from Friday, April 17 to Sunday, April 19 and will be running in addition to the existing east and west end assessment centres.

Operating hours beyond this weekend will be shared soon, according to the city.

READ MORE: Hamilton Public Health reports 271 cases of COVID-19, 10 deaths

The drive-thru location will be run by the Hamilton and McMaster family health teams and will be staffed by primary care clinicians.

Although the provincial criteria for COVID-19 have expanded, the process for testing remains the same, which means a referral from a family doctor or public health official is required for screening.

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That means you cannot just show up and expect to be tested, said Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Hamilton’s medical officer of health.

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“You do have to meet the criteria,” Richardson told Global News Radio 900 CHML’s Bill Kelly Show. “Not everybody who visits will get tested. It’s not quite like a Tim Hortons drive-thru, but it’s close.”

Testing criteria now include symptomatic individuals from vulnerable populations, including health-care workers, first responders and children attending essential daycare. It also includes essential service workers like bus drivers and grocery store employees, all of whom must be symptomatic before they can be tested.

Once someone has been referred to the assessment centre on the mountain, they can drive into the arena in their car, where they will be greeted by a health-care worker who is fully dressed in personal protective equipment.

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“They will go up to their car, they’ll talk with them, do an assessment and log all their information, and if they feel that they need to be tested — they meet the criteria to be tested — then they will go ahead and do the swabs,” said Richardson. “All from the comfort and warmth of your car.”

During Wednesday’s town hall, Richardson said the expanded criteria for testing is great news, as the city’s public health department currently has all the supplies they need to ramp up testing.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Ontario government expands guidelines for priority COVID-19 testing

The wait time for test results has also decreased dramatically. At one point, she said, it was taking as long as 10 or 11 days for those results to come back.

“Considering the fact that people have usually been sick for a few days before they go to get tested, that’s a very long time to wait,” said Richardson.

“So those numbers are well down. Often times we’re getting results within 48 hours. Sometimes, it takes a little bit longer because that lab capacity is still moving around.”

Since Hamilton’s first two assessment centres opened on March 16, public health has seen 2,850 visits and 2,270 people have been tested.

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