A Surrey man is calling for changes at COVID-19 assessment centres after waiting hours to get tested for the novel coronavirus.
Eddy Hall has COVID-19, but he didn't know that when he went to get tested at the Fraser Health Surrey-Whalley Urgent and Primary Care Clinic location on Thursday.
Hall showed up at the testing centre at 10 a.m. with a fever of 38.8 degrees and a bad case of the chills.
He waited in line outside as the hours dragged on.
"I'm ready to leave, right. I'm sick. I've got chills and I just couldn't take it out there. I was just freezing," said Hall.
After four hours, one of the staff members began turning people away, telling a small number to come back at 7 p.m., including Hall.
Discouraged by the long waits and feeling ill, Hall says he was very close to throwing in the towel.
"I wasn't going to come back but I thought 'well, if I have COVID, I need to know so I can keep other people safe'," he said.
Hall returned at 7 p.m. and waited another two hours to get tested.
He's worried what he sees as an inefficient testing process might be turning people away from getting tested, leading to the possibility of people with undiagnosed COVID-19 spreading the virus.
"Had I left I might have never known that I had this virus and I wouldn't have been as careful with the places I went to," he said.
Hall is currently in quarantine at home. He wants Fraser Health — the public health region hardest hit by COVID-19 — to develop a more efficient system at testing centres.
Streamlined testing on its way, says Fraser Health
Fraser Health said in a statement it is currently expanding access at its Surrey-Whalley Urgent and Primary Care Clinic location, which includes increased staffing and a testing-only lane for people who have already been assessed and referred for testing by a medical practitioner. "We are sorry to hear of this person's experience at one of our assessment and testing centres," the statement said.
Fraser Health said it is also expanding capacity across the region, which stretches from Burnaby to Hope, by increasing hours of operation and staffing levels, putting greeters in place, and opening new drive-through testing lanes. Over the next few weeks, the health authority says it will offer pre-booking and pre-registration online and by phone for COVID-19 assessment and testing to streamline access.