LifeLabs returning to two days a week in Powassan

·2 min read

LifeLabs will be back in Powassan for two days a week starting Nov. 9 taking blood samples from clients.

The announcement reverses a decision the company made early summer when it reduced service to one day a week.

LifeLabs rents space from the Powassan and District Union Public Library and carries out its blood work in the basement of the building, which is outfitted with offices.

LifeLabs was a topic of discussion at a recent Powassan council meeting when elected officials talked about how to get it back in town two days a week.

Coun. Debbie Piekarski told her colleagues LifeLabs halved its weekly visits after the library doubled the rent for the office space to cover the expense of keeping the elevator and stairwells sanitized during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Faced with paying twice the rent, LifeLabs reduced its visits to Powassan to one day a week.

However, this had the unintended consequence of long lineups of people waiting outside the library to have their blood work done. LifeLabs limits clients to 40 a day.

"So if you were that 41st person, you were turned away," Piekarski said, adding that some clients make the trip into Powassan from outlying areas such as Chisholm.

Piekarski said this made for a concerning situation.

Days later, however, Mayor Peter McIsaac saw an announcement on Twitter that LifeLabs would return to two days a week effective Nov. 9.

LifeLabs will see clients on Mondays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to noon. The 40-client daily cap will remain in place.

In a release, LifeLabs spokesman Roy Saad said the service level in Powassan was adjusted in order "to respond to staffing constraints and adhere to public health regulations" related to COVID-19.

Saad also said LifeLabs continues to work with Powassan to find a long-term space to operate.

Current protocols will remain in place at the library when the service is increased to two days, says Jordan Ruttan, the library's communications coordinator.

"The clients will come to the library front door and a library employee provides them with a number and then they go back and wait in their car," Ruttan explains.

"When it's their turn, our employee asks them a series of screening questions, they're asked to sanitize their hands, we take their name for contact tracing and then they see the LifeLabs technician."

LifeLabs has been at the library since June 2019. The current site can accommodate three clients at a time. One client sees the technician in one office and two others wait their respective turns in another office where they maintain social distancing.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget