COVID-19 assessment centre opens in Winchester tomorrow at noon

The Lions Hall in Winchester now sports a new ramp, among other changes, as the address becomes a COVID-19 assessment centre starting tomorrow (April 1st). Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

WINCHESTER — Winchester’s COVID-19 testing/assessment centre opens tomorrow at noon (April 1st), says Winchester District Memorial Hospital, which will operate the 515 Albert Street facility in partnership with the Eastern Ontario Health Unit.

The Winchester Lions Hall site has been transformed in recent days into something resembling a clinic, with newly installed ramps and signage. NVN saw what appeared to be temporary, fabric cubicles inside the structure (visible through the window), during a visit to the vacant address this morning.

Operated by WDMH staff and physicians, the Centre is exclusively for the purpose of COVID-19 testing (initially) and, at some point, medical assessments without testing (when the number of cases makes testing redundant), Eastern Ontario Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis has said.

“The aim of the assessment centre is to increase access to COVID-19 testing for EOHU area residents, while reducing the strain on 911, EMS and hospital emergency rooms so that they can focus on urgent care,” the doctor explained today. “It will also reduce the risk of spreading the virus in hospitals and doctors’ offices, helping us to protect healthcare workers and other patients from COVID-19 infection.”

Such centres are rolled out as demand begins to press on nearby emergency rooms. As of late last week, Dr. Roumeliotis indicated that WDMH’s emergency department was up to about three to four visitors daily with “COVID-like” symptoms.

Hours will be Monday to Friday, from noon to 6 pm. Parking is available behind the hall, with signs guiding patients to the appropriate entrance.

“WDMH is grateful for this partnership with the Eastern Ontario Health Unit. This COVID-19 assessment centre will help protect our patients, their families, our staff and our physicians,” said Cholly Boland, WDMH CEO. “The hope is we can stay ahead of the game and prevent the spread of the virus as much as possible.”

Update, in video below: NVN stayed a safe physical distance this morning (April 1) while shooting this video in the hyper-cleaned Winchester Lions Hall — prior to the arrival of patients at the 515 Albert Street address. WDMH CEO Cholly Boland answers a few questions and delivers a short adhoc presentation to start. The footage picks up with Shannon Horsburgh, RN and Operations Supervisor at the site, leading her nurse colleagues through the procedures scheduled to begin at noon. Only one patient is allowed through the door at a time, and it’s not for those feeling sick enough to require medical help: That’s what the Winchester District Memorial Hospital emergency department is for, says Bolland.
The physician on scene is Dr. Mary Naciuk.
Horsburgh also described the throat swab (yes, throat swab) process that will be used on those patients eligible for testing at the Winchester facility.

How to access the Centre

• Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms (such as fever and worsening cough), is first encouraged to go
to the Ministry of Health’s website and complete a self-assessment online and follow the
recommendations.
• You can also contact your primary care provider or call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.
People with moderate, worsening (but non-severe) symptoms may be referred to the
assessment centre. The decision to test will be based on Ministry of Health guidelines.
• Anyone experiencing severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing should call 911 or go to the
hospital emergency room.

Listen to Dr. Roumeliotis’s March 30th COVID-19 update, below.

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