A new COVID-19 assessment centre is opening up on the Hamilton mountain to deal with an increased demand for testing in the city.
Starting Wednesday, St. Joseph’s Healthcare will host a testing site at its West 5th campus between the hours of 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The new centre will eventually expand and take over full-time as the primary mountain testing site in mid-October, when the drive-thru location at the Dave Andreychuk Mountain Arena is scheduled to shut its doors.
While the drive-thru option has been a convenient one for Hamiltonians during the warmer months, it’s not an option that could be pursued during colder seasons.
“We had decided long in advance that we would not carry on with the walk-in model or drive-thru model … for the winter months,” said Dr. Tamar Packer, chief of family medicine at St. Joe’s and Hamilton Health Sciences. “Both for the well-being of the folks that are being tested, and as well, the employees that are working there.”
The new assessment centre is opening a month before the arena site is scheduled to close to accommodate a recent surge in people seeking testing.
Packer said the increase was expected alongside students returning to school, as well as an uptick in cases in the region, but she said it’s also become difficult to deal with the number of people who are showing up to be tested without an appointment.
“We can’t stress enough that part of why we’ve run into the waits that we’ve had for the last three to five days has been largely due to the number of walk-ins,” she said. “The number of folks that we’re actually seeing per day is up, but it would be almost manageable to stay on time if people were booking.”
Since Hamilton’s first assessment centre opened in March, there have been more than 60,000 visits to each of the city’s testing locations.View link »