Doctor referral no longer required for COVID-19 test in Chatham

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Anyone who thinks they are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or has been in contact or exposed to a known positive case can now take it upon themselves and get tested at Chatham-Kent’s assessment centre.

The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) said patients must have at least one symptom to get tested at the centre at 47 Emma Street in Chatham.

“CKHA’s Assessment Centre will now provide swabbing for all patients who self-refer to the centre and are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19,” the CKHA said in a news release on Friday.

Previously, only doctor referrals were accepted at the centre but there’s been a shift to meet increased provincial testing targets.

Common symptoms of COVID-19 include:
  • Fever (temperature of 37.8 C or greater)
  • New or worsening cough
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
Other symptoms of COVID-19 can include:
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • New olfactory or tastes disorder(s)
  • Nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain
  • Runny nose or nasal congestion (if not related to seasonal allergies or post nasal drip, etc.)
Other signs of COVID-19 can include:
  • Clinical or radiological evidence of pneumonia

CKHA said uncommon symptoms of COVID-19 (listed below) should be considered, particularly in children, older persons, and people living with a developmental disability.

  • Unexplained fatigue/malaise/myalgias (muscle aches)
  • Delirium (acutely altered mental status and inattention)
  • Unexplained or increased number of falls
  • Acute functional decline
  • Exacerbation of chronic conditions
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Croup
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • Multisystem inflammatory vasculitis in children
Signs of unusual symptoms can include:
  • Unexplained tachycardia (a heart rate over 100 beats per minute), including age-specific tachycardia for children
  • Decrease in blood pressure
  • Unexplained hypoxia, a condition in which the body or a region of the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply at the tissue level, (inclusive of mild hypoxia)
  • Lethargy, difficulty feeding in infants (if no other diagnosis)

CKHA advises people to call their doctor, CK Public Health, or Telehealth Ontario if they’re not sure they have COVID-19 symptoms. Those officials will go over symptoms and travel history and can determine if people should attend the assessment centre. A self-assessment for COVID-19 provided by the Ministry of Health can also be completed at www.ontario.ca/page/2019-novel-coronavirus.

Hospital officials are advising people to book an appointment rather than randomly attend the assessment centre because patients who arrive as a walk-in will be seen at the earliest convenience by the health care team and may be asked to return the next day or book an appointment if all of the time slots are filled. Click here to book an appointment.

A valid “green” Ontario health card is needed to get an appointment and an email address is required to receive an appointment date and time.

Patients who have a “red and white” Ontario health card, or those who do not have access to technology, can book an appointment by calling CKHA’s Registration at 519.352.6400 ext. 6548 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. After hours and on weekends, patients can call CKHA’s Switchboard at 519.352.6400 ext. 6584.

Patients are also reminded to bring their health card when attending the assessment centre so the health care team can properly identify them and to not forget to bring a list of medications and any other information regarding allergies and past medical issues.