Last week the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) announced that they were opening COVID-19 testing to everyone, even people without symptoms.
This is an important step for our community and the region and is what will lead us to a return to normalcy and a re-opening of our economy.
Everyone should get tested. This will give our health professionals the information that they need to find out where the virus is and help us slowly open our region.
Testing is quick and it is easy. I know, because I have done it.
There are six COVID-19 assessment centres in the EOHU region. The one in Cornwall is located at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health right next to the Cornwall Community Hospital.
Patients must call in advance to book an appointment to be tested. The number for the Cornwall assessment centre is 613-935-7762.
When you call, the receptionist takes down your contact information and tells you a nurse will call you back to book an appointment. Within 10 minutes of making my initial call, I had heard back from the nurse and had an appointment booked the very next day.
Parking at the assessment centre is free, and at the doors, you are greeted by a staff member who gives you a mask and a bit of hand sanitizer.
The receptionist then takes down the information from your health card, so be sure to have it with you, and asks you a few questions such as if you have symptoms, have you been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19, and have you travelled recently.
After that short survey, I was asked to sit and wait. I was the only one in the waiting room at around 1 p.m. this past Wednesday and I didn’t even wait 10 minutes.
A nurse came and took me to a small exam room, sat me down, and gave me the swab. What I was expecting was a nasal swab that I’ve seen on national news. Those are the swabs that they stick up your nose and almost tickle your brains with. What I got instead was a swab that goes in your mouth and tickles the back of your throat, and while that also is not a pleasant experience, it was a brief one.
Following the swab, my nurse informed me that it would take between 24 to 72 hours to receive my results, and that they would call me even if I was negative. She also said that if I hadn’t received a phone call, I could also check my results online at the following link with my health card https://covid19results.ehealthontario.ca:4443/agree
I was then shown the door. Patients are taken out through the back door to minimize opportunities for contamination.
One small touch that struck me was that the nurse had put up photos of her self and her family in the exam room. As I said, this is a small touch, but without these photos, I would have never have seen my nurses face, because she, like me, and everyone else in the assessment centre, was wearing a mask.
Two days after taking the test, I received my call from the assessment centre to tell me that the test was negative.
I never had any COVID-19 symptoms, I had not travelled, and I had not been in contact with anyone who had tested positive to the best of my knowledge, but I wanted to get tested anyway.
By getting tested, I now know for myself that on Wednesday, May 27, I did not have COVID-19. More importantly the EOHU will now be able to use the information from my test and from the 8,500 others they have conducted so far, to say where in the region COVID is, who has it, and how concentrated it is in our population.
Everyone wants our hair salons to re-open, for our restaurants to re-open, for our economy to re-open and for our whole society to go back to normal, and right now testing for the virus is the most effective way to do that. These are important decisions and they should be made with well informed and collected data.
So for everyone who is eager to see stores open again and for everyone who is desperate for a hair cut, I say do your part then and go get tested. Testing is free, it is quick, and it is easy.
I have done it. If I travel, get symptoms, or come in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID, then I will probably go get tested again, because I can do that and so can you.
Have you been tested yet? Will you? Email me a Letter to the Editor at email@example.com