Norfolk General Hospital is busy hiring nurses as the Simcoe hospital prepares to open a drive-thru COVID-19 test centre.
Vice-president Tom Thomson said hospital staff are working with the local health unit on the new centre, which he said would contribute to the province’s push to increase COVID-19 testing.
“The hospital wanted to make a contribution towards that,” Thomson said.
The hospital built an overhang outside the entrance doors to allow for cars to pull in while protecting staff and patients against the elements.
Thomson said the hospital is “actively recruiting” registered nurses and RPNs to conduct nasal swabs, adding that it was too soon to say when the test centre will open or what its hours will be.
“We’ll make the hours as convenient as we can,” he said.
Tests conducted at Norfolk General will be sent to same Hamilton laboratory that the county uses for existing test centres at the Delhi health centre, as well as hospitals in Dunnville and Hagersville.
In contrast to the experience in some urban centres, the health unit said those locations have not been plagued by excessive wait times.
Spokesperson Matt Terry said it takes on average between two and five days for test results to come back from the lab.
He added that the health unit hasn’t yet heard from the province if any local pharmacies will be used as test centres, after the Ford government’s Sept. 23 announcement that some pharmacies would soon offer COVID-19 tests by appointment.
Haldimand-Norfolk has four active cases
As Ontario’s COVID-19 case counts creep up to springtime levels, Haldimand-Norfolk is bucking the trend.
The region hasn’t had a new case in six days, and as of Thursday just four residents were known to have the disease.
The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit has reported 489 cases of COVID-19 and conducted 5,201 negative tests since the pandemic began.
The vast majority of cases were clustered at Anson Place Care Centre in Hagersville and Scotlynn Group’s Vittoria farm, where 200 migrant workers from Mexico contracted the disease and one died.
In total, the novel coronavirus has killed 32 Haldimand-Norfolk residents, while the health unit says another five people who tested positive for the disease died of other causes.
That latter category includes some residents of Anson Place, where 27 people officially died of COVID during a widespread outbreak inside the long-term care facility, but at least four other residents died over the same period, some of whom had tested positive.
The health unit says 448 people in Haldimand-Norfolk who tested positive have “totally recovered,” meaning they are two weeks past the onset of symptoms or a positive test, and have not experienced symptoms for over 24 hours.
Just over 75 per cent of COVID-19 cases can be linked to institutional outbreaks, which include farms and long-term care homes.
The recent case at Walpole North Elementary School, where one person testing positive prompted 12 students and two teachers to be ordered into self-isolation for two weeks, is not included in that group because the province says a school must have two linked cases to be considered in outbreak.
An outbreak at a Caledonia child care centre, where one child tested positive, was declared over after the child completed their home isolation.
J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator