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‘It’s complete incompetency’: Frustration over lost Okanagan COVID-19 test

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Frustration over lost COVID test – Oct 22, 2020

When Donna Howarth started having COVID-19-like symptoms in early October, she went in for a test.

But after a week, she still hadn’t heard back.

“Every phone call was leading me to answering machines: they’ll call me back, never getting a call back,” Donna said.

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However, when she spoke to a person who could access her file for an unrelated medical appointment, Donna said it showed that she went in for a visit but there was no record of a test.

“I’m like, they lost my test? She says, ‘Yeah, it appears so, they’ve lost your test,’” she said.

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“It’s complete incompetency.”

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At the time, Donna was quarantining with her two young boys and husband Charles Howarth.

Charles said the worst part of the whole ordeal was the family stress.

“Seeing my wife torn apart, the boys scared of her,” he said.

“The house is a little bit awkward because of the elevated stress.”

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Charles said he called Interior Health trying to find out how the test was lost.

“I came away from that conversation feeling like (they said), ‘Oh well, she didn’t die. It’s 14 days later, carry on with your life.’ That’s the way I felt. I was completely floored,” he said.

Quarantining for the full two weeks because she never received her results has had a big impact on the family, Donna added.

“We have appointments we’ve missed,” Donna said. “We’ve had to reschedule keep people away.”

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Dealing with the uncertainty has been traumatizing, she added.

“You don’t sleep well,” she said. “You go into bursts of tears out of nowhere because you start to worry. You just have a lot of fear.”

“I don’t even know really what to feel other than abandoned. It kind of makes you feel like you don’t matter.”

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The couple said they want Interior Health to improve their tracking system for coronavirus tests.

“What if they did lose it or switch it and it was positive? And then all of a sudden you’re walking around infecting how many other people because you think you’re negative?” Donna said.

In a statement, Interior Health apologized for the frustration the lost test caused.

“This is the first time out of 44,000 tests in the Kelowna region where there has been a missing test or result,” spokesperson Karl Hardt said in an email.

“We are proud of the incredible work our testing teams are doing across the health authority and in general, our test turnaround remains within 48 hours despite some significant increases in demand in recent weeks,” he said.

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Interior Health said it has worked to resolve the issue at its collection centre.