COVID-19 assessment centre to open in Chatham

The main entrance sign at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance. (File photo by Jake Kislinsky)

Starting Thursday, an assessment centre will be open in Chatham-Kent for anyone who thinks they’re having symptoms of COVID-19.

The centre will be operated by Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) in partnership with the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit. According to a news release from CKHA officials, the goal is to conduct COVID-19 testing away from the hospital and build the response capacity for anyone experiencing symptoms.

A clinical team at the assessment centre will conduct a health assessment, provide an examination, and determine if individuals meet the clinical case definition for testing. Only those who meet the case definition for COVD-19 will be tested.

Currently, the criteria for testing includes:

– People with symptoms including a fever, dry cough and shortness of breath
– People who have travelled to an area that has been affected and are experiencing symptoms
– People who have come into contact with a probable or confirmed case of the COVID-19

“Patients who do not fit the criteria for testing after consultation will be sent home with education on hand hygiene, cough etiquette and flu facts,” CKHA said in the release.

Patients who do fit the criteria will receive a swab. Within a few days of testing, CK Public Health will contact all patients and will inform them whether their results are positive or negative.

CKHA officials are also stressing that the assessment centre is not meant to act as a walk-in clinic or a walk-in for random testing. Clinic workers will also not be providing doctor notes to individuals.

CKHA CEO Lori Marshall told reporters at a media briefing on Wednesday that the assessment centre on Emma will be the only centre and no satellites are planned because it has to be near the emergency department. Dr. David Colby, CK’s Medical Officer of Health, said a new shipment of test kits is coming on Wednesday. He added there aren’t and there won’t be any drive-thru testing sites in CK because there aren’t enough swabs.

The assessment clinic opens on Thursday and will be located at 47 Emma St. in Chatham. It will operate daily from 9 a.m to 5 p.m., with the possibility of extended hours based on need. Access to the assessment centre will be through the west entrance door and free parking will be available in the parking lot directly adjacent to the building.

To accommodate CKHA’s COVID-19 assessment centre, the Rapid Access to Addiction Medicine Clinic has been temporarily moved to CKHA’s outpatient mental health services located at 240 Grand Avenue West. The Diabetes Education Centre, also located at 47 Emma St., will be conducting all scheduled appointments through phone consultations until further notice.

“CKHA is taking every effort to protect its patients, visitors, staff, physicians and the broader community during this pandemic,” stated the release. “The operation of CKHA’s COVID-19 Assessment Centre will ensure patients presenting with symptoms that meet the criteria for testing receive results as efficiently as possible. CKHA will continue to update the public regarding any changes to the status of the COVID-19 Assessment Centre.”