Horizon Health drive-thru testing site in Moncton adds flu vaccine clinic

·3 min read
Horizon Health drive-thru testing site in Moncton adds flu vaccine clinic
Horizon Health drive-thru testing site in Moncton adds flu vaccine clinic

The drive-thru COVID-19 testing facility at the Moncton Agrena is quieting down following an outbreak traced to the Manoir Notre Dame special care home that has gripped the area for the last two weeks, and put all of Zone #1 back to the orange phase.

"We did over 400 swabs in one day, our biggest day, so probably over 1500 in three or four days so that's a pretty high number for usual numbers that we do here." said Richard Lemay, the director of primary health care at Horizon Health.

During its busiest day last spring, staff at the testing site saw about 90 people in a day.

The COVID-19 drive-thru space has been able to expand inside the Agrena, where trade shows are normally hosted. That's because the blood collection lab, which shared the drive-thru space, has been moved inside the connected Coliseum building.

Pierre Fournier/CBC News
Pierre Fournier/CBC News

Lemay says it's meant an increase in COVID-19 testing capacity of 33 per cent, opening two more spaces for swabbing.

Horizon Health is also trying something new in some additional space in the Coliseum

Dr. Jody Enright is a family physician and the medical director for the Moncton area for Horizon.

She said each year, many flu shots are administered by family doctors, but this year, space is a problem. So she set up a flu clinic.

"This year with the social distancing requirements, it's really hard for most family docs to organize that in their small spaces so what we've done is we've set up this clinic so family doctors can come here, bring their patients here and deliver the flu shot safely." she said.

Pierre Fournier/CBC News
Pierre Fournier/CBC News

Doctors can book mornings, afternoons or evenings. Most will do a couple of different days.

"They bring their own staff and they bring their own serum and they bring their own patients and we provide the space." she said.

Dr. Enright said about 40 doctors have signed up for the clinic so far. Appointments must be made through a family doctor. She said getting a flu shot is especially important this year, because of COVID-19.

Pierre Fournier/CBC News
Pierre Fournier/CBC News

Dr. Ken Gillespie is the chief of staff at the Moncton Hospital and said moving the blood clinic seemed to make sense as fall weather arrives.

"As the weather got colder, the drive-thru model doesn't work very well for drawing blood so we were, had always been planning on moving the blood lab over here anyway, so the timing worked out very well for us." he said.

Dr. Gillespie said, as the pandemic started in the spring, they realized they had to think outside the box.

"This pandemic was not going to be over for a few months and that the need for testing, the need for expanding our clinical services beyond the infrastructure that we had was not going to go away." Gillespie said.

Pierre Fournier/CBC News
Pierre Fournier/CBC News

"So I'm actually not surprised we're still here and I expect we'll be here for a while longer."

Gillespie said more patients choose the clinic at the Coliseum, than the lab at the Moncton Hospital. He said it's a lot more convenient for some people, and cuts down on foot traffic at the hospital.

"There are some specialized tests that we can really only do at the hospital or maybe there are some situations where patients would actually prefer to come to the hospital or need to come to the hospital for different reasons." he said.

The clinic can see about 150 patients a day.

The Jones Lake Blood Clinic has been closed during the pandemic because of space. Gillespie says the clinic will be remodeled and open again, but he doesn't have a firm date at the moment.

Gillespie said the pandemic has taught medical staff to remain vigilant, and ready to handle anything.

He said even though everyone suspected a second wave, the reality is different.

"Even knowing that is different than experiencing it. I think it has been difficult the last couple of weeks as we've gone through this orange phase, I think, for people mentally and emotionally." he said.