High demand for COVID-19 testing leads AHS to expand capacity, extend hours at south assessment centre

Click to play video: 'Increased demand for walk-in COVID-19 testing in Edmonton' Increased demand for walk-in COVID-19 testing in Edmonton
Some Edmontonians tell Global News they were told it would take two to four days to get an appointment to get tested for COVID-19. Now Alberta Health Services is expanding capacity and extending hours at the south Edmonton assessment centre to meet demand. Julia Wong explain – Jun 11, 2020

High demand for testing in the Edmonton zone has prompted Alberta Health Services to expand the number of swabbing stations at the south assessment centre and extend the facility’s hours.

According to numbers provided by AHS, the number of people booking appointments for COVID-19 testing has grown from 604 people on May 29 to 1,618 people on June 4 to 3,417 people on June 8.

“It has absolutely increased,” said Tammy Anderson, site lead for the south assessment centre.

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“We had the protest over the weekend. We’ve had some positive cases in the businesses, that type of thing, so certainly it’s increased accordingly.

“We’re definitely seeing a higher demand for testing, particularly for asymptomatic folks for testing.”

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Starting Friday, the assessment centre at 7319 – 29 Ave. will double the number of swabbing stations, allowing staff to be able to increase swabbing from 1,500 a day to 3,000 a day.

Hours will also be extended from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

COVID-19 testing demand in the Edmonton zone.
COVID-19 testing demand in the Edmonton zone. Source, Alberta Health Services

“What we’re hoping is with this increased capacity, we will be able to see symptomatic folks, health-care workers and anybody who’s been exposed to a positive case in a work site, within probably about 24 hours. We’ve also allowed for online booking up to seven days in advance so hopefully that will help with our asymptomatic folks being able to get their appointment more readily,” Anderson said.

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The number of staff will also be doubled, she said.

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Shaun Sommer and his son Oliver, 4, stood in line for drop-in testing at the assessment centre on Thursday.

“I’ve got a bit of chest congestion and a cough. Just not feeling super well so we decided to come and get tested,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Edmontonians flock to drop-in COVID-19 testing centre' Edmontonians flock to drop-in COVID-19 testing centre
Edmontonians flock to drop-in COVID-19 testing centre – Jun 4, 2020

Sommer said he tried to book an appointment but the earliest date was Sunday.

“I felt that getting tested sooner would be better if it all possible,” he said.

“I’ve got a four-year-old so the sooner we get information, the better, the more educated decisions I can make in that regard.”

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Sommer said the last few months have been challenging.

“The weather was pretty poor and getting used to a new normal, as far as going out and doing things, anybody with a kid will tell you routine is a really big thing,” he said.

While in the past, prior to the pandemic, he would have brushed off his symptoms, Sommer said he wanted to do his due diligence and get tested.

“Considering the times we live in now, I just don’t want to infect anybody that could be seriously affected [by the virus]. I’m an electrician by trade. I would feel terrible if I brought it into somebody’s home fixing a light bulb,” Sommer said.

The expanded capacity will be in place at the south assessment centre until Friday, June 19 then Anderson said AHS will monitor demand and adjust capacity as needed.

Appointments booked in Edmonton zone, source: AHS

  • May 29 – 604
  • May 30 – 595
  • May 31 – 660
  • June 1 – 1,524
  • June 2 – 1,916
  • June 3 – 1,622
  • June 4 – 1,618
  • June 5 – 1,358
  • June 6 – 1,407
  • June 7 – 1,701
  • June 8 – 3,417
  • June 9 – 2,405

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