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New pop-up COVID-19 assessment centre planned for old Barrie Police HQ building

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Publicly funded COVID-19 testing in Ontario to prioritize symptomatic people, close contacts of confirmed cases, Yaffe says' Coronavirus: Publicly funded COVID-19 testing in Ontario to prioritize symptomatic people, close contacts of confirmed cases, Yaffe says
WATCH: Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario's Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, said on Thursday that publicly funded COVID-19 testing in the province will be targeting individuals who are symptomatic, and those who are close contacts of a confirmed case or are part of an outbreak investigation. Yaffe said this will help “support access to testing for those who need it.” – Sep 24, 2020

A new pop-up COVID-19 assessment location is planned to open at the old Barrie Police headquarters on Sperling Drive.

“We are continuing to work through that agreement with the City of Barrie,” Stella Johnson, the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre’s operations director of the emergency department, intensive care unit and clinic C (the COVID-19 assessment centre), told Global News Thursday.

“It would offer drive-thru testing options, similar to the current operations at RVH Clinic C.”

Read more: Woman waits 7 hours for COVID-19 test, calls it ‘unacceptable in a modern city like Toronto’

Johnson said the hospital is hoping to have the pop-up assessment centre open up within the next week, with a longer term plan for November.

If the long-term plan plays out in November, Johnson said the hospital would close operations at RVH’s current assessment centre and provide a drive-thru location at the old Barrie Police HQ, where assessment rooms could be set up inside the facility.

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“We were exploring the City of Barrie’s 29 Sperling location for the last few weeks as part of our winter preparedness strategy, recognizing that the pandemic would continue into the winter months and that our current set-up would not be conducive for staff to continue to go outside for 12 hours a day in order to provide testing options for the community,” Johnson said

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The hospital is testing more than 550 patients per day on average every day this week, while wait times have fluctuated, according to Johnson.

Read more: Ontario announces COVID-19 testing to be expanded to pharmacies

“I think with recent changes to Ontario health direction around assessment centres, we will continue to see fluctuations in need,” Johnson said.

“I don’t know what capacity will look like, truly. It really depends on prevalence in the community and symptoms.”

The hospital allows patients to book their COVID-19 assessment appointments online in advance and accepts walk-ins or drive-ins.

In addition to RVH’s drive-thru assessment centre, there is another COVID-19 assessment facility in Barrie on Huronia Road.

This week, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced COVID-19 testing will be expanded to up to 60 pharmacies across the province starting Friday, although no Barrie pharmacies were included in the province’s announcement.

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The province said more pharmacy locations that will offer COVID-19 tests will be announced in the coming weeks.

Officials are now saying people without COVID-19 symptoms shouldn’t be going to Ontario’s testing centres as a result of long line-ups.

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