COVID testing can be done through VIHA or Gabriola Clinic

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Wednesday, September 2 2020

Getting a test for COVID-19 in the Island Health region has, over the past couple weeks, been a challenge, as the health region’s call centre had to ramp up staffing to deal with an increase in daily calls for testing.

Island Health staff said this past week that as the BC case counts began to spike, the call centre which serves as the entry into the testing went from 400 calls/day up to 900 calls per day, with few days under 500.

Since trained nurses are required to properly triage callers, it wasn’t just a simple step of hiring more people to answer phones. Another issue around staffing was the spike in calls for testing corresponded with some staff returning to their regular duties to support a further return to regular services like surgeries.

The good news is once people got through the first step, the rest of the process was more efficient.

Region-wide, actual testing is now done within 48 hours once someone has an appointment, with some people getting tested on the same day they call in.

Results are usually received within 24 hours of the test being completed.

On Gabriola, people have the option of calling the Island Health Call Centre to get an appointment, but staff at the Gabriola Medical Clinic said Gabriolans can call the clinic direct and ask staff for testing, which is being done on site.

One of the doctors then calls people back, does a triage over the phone to see if the person meets the criteria for being tested.

Staff at the clinic said if a test is required, usually the swab test is done the same day that person called in.

Results take 24 to 48 hours to be received, depending on when the test is taken and when the swap is transported off island for processing.

To get tested at the Gabriola clinic, people can call during clinic hours at 250-247-9922.

Both Island Health and the Clinic ask for people to not just show up at testing sites without an appointment.

With Island Health, all appointments must be pre-booked through the COVID-19 Testing Call Centre. 

Visit bc.thrive.health to determine if testing is needed, then call 1-844-901-8442.

A statement from the Government of Canada states, “testing is the only way to confirm whether you have COVID-19. It is important to know if you are infected so that you can protect your family and the people in your community.

“Testing tells us: who has the virus, and how much the virus may be spreading in our communities.

“All tests must be done by a health care professional. At-home sample collection test kits or home test kits have not been authorized for sale.”