Assessment Centre opens in Kincardine

Three COVID-19 Assessment Centres opened this week in Owen Sound, Kincardine and Hanover, to help identify and triage patients with symptoms of COVID-19. Hannah MacLeod/Kincardine News

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Two more COVID-19 assessment centres opened in Grey-Bruce on Thursday, March 19.

One at Hanover & District Hospital in Hanover will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week. The other is at South Bruce Grey Health Centre’s Kincardine hospital, which will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.

Owen Sound’s COVID-19 assessment centre opened at noon Wednesday in portable buildings next to the emergency department of Grey Bruce Health Services. Hours are noon to 8 p.m., seven days a week.

Owen Sound only is using a call centre for people considering whether to come to the assessment centre. The number is 519-378-1466.

No appointments are necessary.

The screening centres are intended to relieve overcrowded emergency departments. They’re to screen patients who have COVID-19 symptoms “who are having difficulty managing at home,” South Bruce Grey Health Centre said in a notice Tuesday.

Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. The hospitals all advise people not to come if they’re not experiencing any symptoms. Guidance on what to do is available at www.ontario.ca/coronavirus.

But if you’re very ill, go to the nearest emergency department or call 911, the notice said.

Only people who need a support person may be accompanied by one, the notice said. People will be asked to wash their hands and don a mask before entering the centre. Most people seen at the centre will be told to self-isolate and monitor symptoms. Only if patients are critically ill would they be hospitalized, the notice says.

At the Kincardine hospital assessment centre, staff were doing a dry run Wednesday afternoon in preparation for opening the centre at 9 a.m. Thursday.

People will drive in and receive a preliminary assessment from staff through the window of the visitor’s car, SBGHC Mike Barrett said Wednesday.

If further examination is needed, visitors will be directed to two tents and a trailer beside the hospital. The next step would see visitors enter two patient rooms at the northeast corner of the hospital that have been walled off from the rest of the hospital.

Barrett said “very few people will be tested” for COVID-19. A person must have a fever or cough, and within 14 days of onset have travelled outside Canada or had close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19, or close contact with someone with acute respiratory illness who travelled outside Canada.

“I think there is considerable worry and angst in the community. And we want to provide a service that will help to address that concern,” Barrett said. “But we really encourage people to look to our website around whether they should be coming to the assessment centre or not.”

More information was being added the hospital corporation’s website Wednesday afternoon, he said.

Being an a smaller community may help ensure healthcare workers can focus on their jobs if people look out for one another, Barrett said.

“I would ask the community that they rally around and support their friends and neighbours and family to ensure that those healthcare workers who need to go to work have the proper supports to be able to do that.”

Daycares were closed as part of the sweeping efforts to contain the virus. There are also limits on large gatherings of people and travel.

Efforts to reach Hanover hospital officials were unsuccessful Wednesday.

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