P.E.I. bringing in health-care workers from outside province amid COVID surge

·3 min read
'People are waiting in these lines for three, four or five hours. Just giving them washroom facilities is a decent thing to do,' says Green MLA Michele Beaton. (Julien Lecacheur/Radio-Canada - image credit)
'People are waiting in these lines for three, four or five hours. Just giving them washroom facilities is a decent thing to do,' says Green MLA Michele Beaton. (Julien Lecacheur/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Starting Monday, a small team of health-care workers from outside P.E.I. have been contracted to support testing and vaccination efforts on the Island.

"This team is able to run these types of clinics and will help us maintain our services while supporting our staff," Health P.E.I. said.

"We are also looking at our hours for offering testing, while balancing that with the workload requirements we have placed on staff."

The move was announced after P.E.I.'s Official Opposition called for COVID-19 testing clinic services to be improved after some testing sites had to close ahead of schedule over the weekend.

On Saturday, the Charlottetown and Borden-Carleton testing sites no longer added people to lineups after reaching capacity.

It's not the first time. The weekend before, the testing clinic at Park Street in Charlottetown closed early.

Green MLA Michele Beaton said services need to be improved.

"We've seen this happen several times before as far back as a year ago, when the guidance to 20 to 29 year olds of the Greater Charlottetown area was to get tested, and they completely overwhelmed our testing facilities," she said.

"This is something that we've seen time and time again, and it's really something that we need to address and do better."

The testing sites closed on Saturday reopened Sunday.

Julien Lecacheur/Radio-Canada
Julien Lecacheur/Radio-Canada

In a statement Saturday, Beaton also said the province should set up washrooms at every testing site, and make access to at-home rapid tests available — something she asked for earlier in the week.

"The purpose of the statement was to ask the government to provide things such as rapid testing, where it's appropriate for people to have rapid tests so that they can do that at home and they don't necessarily have to be in these lineups. The people that do need the PCR tests can be in this line," Beaton said just outside the Charlottetown testing location Sunday morning.

"Also washroom facilities, people are waiting in these lines for three, four or five hours. Just giving them washroom facilities is a decent thing to do."

Portable toilets have been added to the site in Charlottetown, according to an email from Health P.E.I. — but the statement didn't address whether the same service would be coming to other testing sites.

"We prioritize walk-in traffic where possible, especially in cold or harsh weather, and we are looking for ways to better provide shelter. This is difficult when we consider the need for physical distancing inside," the email said.

According to Health P.E.I., lab supply shortages are also causing issues and adding to the turn around time of results — even with extra staff added.

"There are also limited lab supplies across Canada — we like everyone else are on allocation. As a result, there are limits on how many tests are practical to take on any given day, even if we had unlimited testing staff."

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