Newly opened COVID-19 assessment centres testing in Quinte West, North Hastings

By 0

By Derek Baldwin

Ontario Health has given the nod to fund newly opened assessment centres in Quinte West and North Hastings to ramp up further COVID-19 swab testing to hunt and track cases of the novel coronavirus.

The latest development in the fight against the disease was confirmed by Doug Socha, Chief Hastings-Quinte Paramedic Services, Wednesday in a meeting of the paramedic services committee.

The new assessment centres complement centres set up last month in Picton and Belleville.

“Regarding the assessment centres, I am pleased to report we have now received approval from Ontario Health to fund both a North Hastings site as well as the site in Quinte West,” he said.

Both centres, Socha said, “will be staffed by community paramedics while they also continue with their community responses.”

Residents who are tested at the assessment centres will be seen by up to 12 trained paramedics within the Community Paramedicine Program which has received funding of around $750,000 to conduct the equivalent of 12 hours of operations a day, seven days a week, Socha said.

Socha said the paramedic program has completed 1,697 COVID-19 swab tests as of Tuesday including 686 tests in long-term care homes and about 210 tests in the community at large.

While requiring a greater exertion by staff to gauge the extent of the virus in the region, the pandemic has prompted fewer emergency calls in the region for regular ambulatory assistance, he said.

“We have been seeing a decrease, much like other services, around the emergency response. Some of it, I think, is the perception of fear going to the hospital [due to COVID-19]. So, we’ve really been messaging, if you really need an ambulance, don’t hesitate to call for your emergencies,” Socha said.

He pointed out those “who are waiting are on the higher acuity side of their illnesses so we’re making sure we’re monitoring that.”

Three new ambulances have been secured on budget by the Hastings-Quinte Paramedic Services to meet an expected surge in calls in future given an aging population across the region.

“We’re also hearing from the hospital and the province they are looking at trying to get back to normal for elected surgeries and that so we’re certainly working with Ontario Health and our partners to understand what that looks like and how we can do that safely with the resources in place,” Socha told the committee.

Committee member Coun. Sean Kelly asked how paramedics where managing through tough pandemic times of uncertainty.

Socha said when “this first started, there was a lot of apprehension, crews were very anxious, nervous what this would be” but have since performed well with well-stocked personal protective equipment and support from the community.