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qathet region resident raises concern over COVID-19 testing site

Powell River General Hospital's emergency room is the only current location
SINGLE LOCATION: COVID-19 testing in the qathet region only takes place at Powell River General Hospital’s emergency room. An area resident has expressed concern about the location of the testing site.

A resident of the qathet region has expressed concern about COVID-19 testing in the area, which now only takes place at Powell River General Hospital.

John Rayment contacted the Peak to advise he had been sent to the hospital emergency room (ER) because he discovered there is no dedicated onsite testing facility for COVID-19 in the region.

“It is supposed to be relocating to Powell River hospital third floor at the back of the building, but no one appears to know when, or even if, it will open,” Rayment stated in an email. “In the meantime, the protocol is to tell people to go to the emergency department and wait in line. Everyone I’ve talked to in every public health agency here realizes how ridiculous this is as a public health measure, but no one seems to know who came up with this insane measure."

Rayment stated that in his case, his doctor referred him to the emergency room to get checked out, as he had been sick for several days and the doctor wanted to rule out COVID-19.

“I went on November 3 and waited from 2 pm until 6:30 pm,” stated Rayment. “When I asked the nurse if she had any idea when I might be seen, she replied in the negative. The emergency room was completely overwhelmed, with people sitting everywhere. So, I checked myself out and came home.”

Rayment stated the point should be obvious.

“Sending potential COVID-19 patients to sit in the ER for five hours, where they are potentially infecting the most vulnerable people, is a bizarre public health policy,” he added. “I would sure like to know how this could happen.”

Rayment also stated that while emergency room staff followed normal infection control procedures appropriate for routine emergency room cases, staff members were not equipped with all the personal protective equipment that staff working at COVID-19 testing clinics customarily wear.

Vancouver Coastal Health and Powell River Division of Family Practice were contacted regarding COVID-19 testing at Powell River General Hospital and replied with the following written statement:

“Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) and the Powell River Division of Family Practice (DFP) are committed to ensuring anyone who requires access to testing receives quality and efficient care. Currently, COVID-19 testing services for those living in Powell River and qathet region are available at Powell River General Hospital.

“We recognize this has resulted in some residents experiencing a longer wait time than anticipated. Hospital operations and leadership are working closely to minimize the time required to get tested at this site. The hospital remains a safe place to access care, as staff and patients continue to comply with rigorous infection prevention and control measures.

“In addition, in the weeks ahead, a new clinic site will be established to offer COVID-19 testing to these communities. VCH and Powell River DFP are working closely with a variety of stakeholders to ensure that the new site offers safe, reliable and accessible testing services.

“Testing services will continue to be available at Powell River General Hospital, also. We appreciate the cooperation and understanding of local community members.”

Rayment stated he is not being critical of the dedicated health-care workers but is concerned about policy that puts people potentially afflicted with COVID-19 in contact with others who are not infected.