Editorial note: In response to the high demand for COVID-19 testing in the KFL&A region, Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) has extended the hours at the Beechgrove Assessment Centre in Kingston. Please see bottom of the article for those details.
As the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) region is experiencing higher-than-ever COVID-19 caseloads, outbreaks, and hospitalizations, many residents are wondering why the wait times for COVID-19 testing are now also at an all-time high.
The KFL&A region has had over 200 active COVID-19 cases since Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. Since that date, nearly 5,000 COVID-19 tests have been processed in the region, with 1,420 tests processed on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021.
But while many people across the region are seeking COVID-19 testing at much higher rates than even a week ago, wait times for testing appointments are also growing. As of Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021, there were no available appointments for testing through the Beechgrove Assessment Centre in Kingston, with the next available date for appointments (Monday, Nov. 29, 2021) not yet open for booking.
Both KFL&A Public Health and Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC), the two organizations that lead COVID-19 testing for the region, point to the consistently rising number of cases within KFL&A.
According to the local Public Health Unit, the rising COVID-19 caseload has resulted in higher demand for COVID-19 testing. At the same time, Public Health is consistently following both all of the active cases in the region, and all of those cases’ associated contacts – the number of which has remained at approximately 500 over the past week. That means that, as of Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, KFL&A Public Health was monitoring 220 active cases and 584 contacts.
In an attempt to provide more testing to meet the demand and lower wait times for testing, KFL&A Public Health began planning more pop-up testing clinics for the region, Public Health representatives said. One of those pop-up clinics was announced today, and will take place on Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021, at the Beechgrove Assessment Centre from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. – hours that the Assessment Centre is not normally operational. That pop-up testing clinic will require advanced booking, which can be done here, and still had plenty of appointment available as of 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021.
KFL&A Public Health also pointed out that residents in the region who are seeking COVID-19 testing are able to attend the Assessment Centre in Napanee at the L&A County General Hospital Westdale Campus, and that those seeking asymptomatic testing can do so at area pharmacies if they are:
- a resident, employee, or visitor of a long-term care home,
- a resident or employee in a shelter or other care or congregate setting,
- a farm worker,
- an international student who has completed their 14-day self-isolation period following international travel, or
- someone who self-identifies as Indigenous.
All details for COVID-19 testing in KFL&A are available here.
For its part, KHSC, which staffs the Kingston Assessment Centre and the labs which process COVID-19 tests, shared similar insights into the reason for backlogs in testing.
“Increasing transmission of COVID-19 in our community is the primary factor driving increased testing activity at the Beechgrove Assessment Centre (AC). The team is doing incredible work and is currently swabbing more people than ever before, including very high numbers of children,” KHSC said, noting that the Beechgrove Assessment Centre has averaged 450 tests per day since early November, with many days seeing 600 tests or more this week.
“The AC team is working hard to accommodate high volumes, including, when possible, adding evening appointments to its daily 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. schedule. The AC team opens booking slots throughout the day beginning in early morning,” KHSC continued.
Those seeking COVID-19 testing are encouraged to check regularly for available times at https://ygkcovidtesting.coconutcalendar.com/times. Residents can also call 613-548-2376 to book an appointment by phone. KHSC also said it is hopeful that the recent provincial announcement of increased testing capabilities through pharmacies and take-home tests will result in more typical volumes at the local Assessment Centres.
Both KHSC and KFL&A Public Health underscored the importance of cancelling COVID-19 testing appointments if people are unable to attend them – particularly at a time when there are hundreds of local residents awaiting testing.
“To ensure efficient service during this high-volume period, the AC cannot accommodate walk-ins,” KHSC said. “We also ask that individuals who cannot attend their booked appointment cancel it immediately to make space for someone else who is waiting for a COVID-19 swab.”
As of Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021, the region has 234 active cases of COVID-19, 14 more active cases than the day before, with two COVID-19 deaths occurring over the past two days.
As a result of this ongoing high demand for COVID-19 testing, KHSC announced on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021 that it is extending the hours at the Beechgrove Assessment Centre for the next five days.
“In response to increasing community demand for COVID-19 testing, Kingston Health Sciences Centre is offering pop-up testing clinics at its Assessment Centre (Beechgrove Complex) Thursday, November 25 through to Monday, Nov. 29,” KHSC said in a press release.
“The additional testing slots have been created in response to high volumes as community prevalence of COVID-19 grows in our region. In particular, the Assessment Centre has seen an increase in the number of children requiring testing. More community outbreaks, symptomatic individuals and high-risk contacts of COVID-19 positive individuals have all contributed to heightened demand for testing.”
The pop-up clinics will operate after normal clinic hours, running from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Due to volumes, the Assessment Centre cannot accommodate telephone bookings or walk-in testing. There will be no doctor on site during these evening clinics. To book an appointment during the extended hours, go to: https://gvtlabs.testfast.ca/book?inventoryGroup=1237043216&inventory=1755269229&feeder=1262160586.